Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Road to Oslo paved with good intentions, apparently

The decision, announced within the last hour, to award Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize is an utterly baffling one. In fact, I assumed it was a joke when I first heard about it. I like the guy. And I like what he’s trying to do. But he hasn’t accomplished any of it yet. So they’re honouring him for having good intentions. Hey, Nobel prize committee – I got good intentions! Where’s my award? Obama been in office less than a year and, to date, he’s achieved – give or take – nothing:

Not in Israel/Palestine. Not in Iraq. Not in Iran (where he failed to support a popular democratic uprising.) Not in Afghanistan (where he’s sending in thousands of troops to bolster a corrupt and fraudulently elected leader.) Not in nuclear proliferation. Not in North Korea. Not in Darfur. Not in health care. Not in gay rights… The list goes on.

He may yet prove himself a good, or even great president. But rewarding him prematurely in this manner will only serve to diminish the prestige of the Nobel Prize and fuel the rabid conspiracy theories of his staunchest domestic opponents. I don’t know if it’s within his power to decline the honour. (Sartre declined the Literature award, didn’t he?) But if Obama could find some diplomatic way of doing so, he should definitely consider it.

America has not yet woken up to the news. But I suspect that, over the next few hours, there will be hell to pay on the right. Coming at a time when some bipartisan spirit will required to make progress on health care reform, that’s the last thing the American people need.

October 9th, 2009.

18 Responses to “Road to Oslo paved with good intentions, apparently”

  1. Chris Says:

    By the logic used by whoever decides these things here Brian Cowen could be given the Nobel Peace prize because he has sent less troups into a foreign territory n than Obama.

    The official reason seems to be Obama was awarded the prize ‘for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’.

    I like him but he’s not exactly the equal of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Well, he’s the US president so he’s at least in a position to achieve far more than either of those. He just hasn’t done so yet. It reminds me a little of when Michael Moore’s awful, awful Farenheit 911 was awarded the top prize at Cannes.

    Another case of an a jury making a political point, rather than rewarding achievement.

  3. Andrew Says:

    Perhaps it’s for the way he has fearlessly shown that he is not afraid to stridently take sides in urgent matters of diplomatic conflict, thereby making the world a more peaceful place by causing any aggressors to carefully consider each move they make? That Kanye West will certainly think twice before he acts next time.

  4. Rosemary Says:

    India Knight’s response: “I wonder if Obama feels pleased but mortified – like someone you’ve been for a drink with twice giving you a diamond ring.” But yes, definitely premature and adding to pre-existing expectations of greatness.

  5. Colin Says:

    The prize this year is certainly politically motivated. A drawing of a line under the Bush Administration and a weak attempt to affect international policy.

    The whole thing is a farce of Al Gore proportions. What the hell does Obama say in his acceptance speech, IF he does actually accept it?

  6. albinicus Says:

    jim corr must be disgusted

  7. Peter81 Says:

    It seems like an award by proxy to the Americans who made a good decision for the first time in eight years.

    An odd choice, but a certified headline grabber. I wonder is the Nobel Peace Prize sponsored by Shockwaves?

  8. Colin Says:

    Obama to make speech in 15 minutes about Nobel. Checking Paddy Power on odds fo him turing it down…

  9. Eoin Says:

    Some very witty comments on the liberal Huffington Post (not a place usually renowned for its sense of humour):

    A spokesman for the Nobel committee said she hoped that Mr. Obama’s victory would be seen not only as a victory for him, but “as a tribute to the healing power of beer.”

    In a stunning turn of events, President Barack Obama has swept baseball’s postseason honors in both leagues, a feat never before accomplished and long considered impossible.

    Breaking news: I just won the Pulitzer for all the books I’m GOING to write.

  10. El Kid Says:

    Reports now he’ll accept it on behalf ‘behalf of Americans and America’s values…’

    Anyone buy that?

  11. Eoin Says:

    Your information basically correct EK… he’s just accepted it. Pretty dissapointing…

  12. Colin Says:

    Aye, damn him, more money lost on a long shot at Paddy Power.

    It’s “Bobo’s birthday” too, apparantly.

    Kudos to the reporter who shouted out “What will you do with the money?!” as he walked away.

  13. Eoin Says:

    Yeah, coded references to sharing prize with Aung San Suu Kyi, Iranian demonstrators (who he did nothing to assist) and US soldiers in Iraq.

    Fair enough he’s in a difficult position, maybe if sent someone else to pick it up on his behalf he could mitigate some of the embarrassment…

  14. Alfred Nobel Says:

    Selection of Nobel winner has always been political. It has always been used to prod the powerful into doing (what the committee see as) the right thing.

    Gorbachev won it in 1990, as he was presiding over a crumbling empire.

    Peres and Arafat shared it in ’94 to discourage them from disrupting Clinton’s peace deal….not that it did any good.

    Obama has made a lot of positive noises (plans to leave Iraq, scrapping missile shield in Poland so no new arms race with Russia) so they’re using this to say keep going Barry, don’t let us down.

    So I’m not saying he was the right choice, I’m just saying don’t pretend this is a new thing.

  15. Matt Says:

    My favourite so far…

    Miss World slams Nobel committee: “I was for world peace before Obama!”

  16. Eoin Says:

    Gorbachev had allowed free and fair election in the Soviet Union for the very first time.

    Peres and Arafat had signed a major peace deal.

    You didn’t mention F.W. de Klerk, but he was a lifelong proponent of apartheid who won the award for changing his mind and bringing white South Africa along with him.

    Even Kissinger, for all his crimes, had helped bring about the end of the Vietnam war.

    I’m not saying that he won’t in the future, but Obama to date has achieved nothing comparable to any of that.

  17. Conal Says:

    @alfred nobel: well said.

  18. Eoin Says:

    @ Conal – well said you, too

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