Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize

This was a dumb decision by the Nobel committee. Really bad. It will only confirm the worst cynical accusations of political bias by the committee.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Obama, and there are many things I like about him. But the fact is that he has not yet had any meaningful "peace" accomplishments. He's changed the tone of the debate, he's had great rhetoric, that's all well and good and in the right direction, but that's only a prelude to accomplishment, not an accomplishment itself.

I don't know if the committee was trying to reward those gestures - in which case it is premature and can be legitimately accused of fawning over the young presidency. Or perhaps it is trying to influence decisions such as how to proceed in Afghanistan, in which case it is truly political.

But without any concrete accomplishments to cite - just "hope" and "tone" - this debases the value of the peace prize as a neutral reward for making the world a better place. I really hate to say this, but this decision demonstrates the peace prize committee (physics/chemistry/medicine, so far, still appear untainted) to be far more politically oriented than they are supposed to be.

The smart thing here would be for Obama to turn down the prize, pointing out that he has not had any success yet that would warrant it. That would gently, gracefully (and diplomatically) chide the committee and I think Obama would actually earn a lot of credit for doing so. I'm not optimistic he will do so, though.

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