Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Award! (But Why?)

So President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. But the first reaction of many is to ask “Why?”

While I appreciate their consideration of our new president, I think the popular response in America is “He hasn’t done anything yet!”

Supporters and opponents of the president alike are equally surprised and a bid dumfounded.

But this award shows the dichotomy of perception of Obama here in America vs. abroad. In Europe and elsewhere, Obama’s election as president was seen as a welcome change, a new dawn, a sea change in America’s attitude and policy on the international stage. Thus, it is no surprise that in Europe this award is highly lauded.

Still, in the US, even those who support Obama think it’s premature. Others note that the war is ongoing in Iraq and there is not troupe reduction there. And in Afghanistan, many point to the irony of a peace award given to a leader pondering a troupe build-up. In addition, Guantanamo still holds unindicted prisoners and Obama supports renewing key provisions of the Patriot Act.

An interesting sidebar: Republicans and the Taliban are equally critical of awarding the prize to Obama.

So why did Obama win? To me, the award is based on a perception abroad that Obama’s election represents a major sea change in American attitude and policy on international affairs. And, in some circles, international diplomacy being one, perception is reality. For many, it’s not the facts, it’s the attitude or the words.

But still, wouldn’t you feel better if it was someone or a group, maybe not well known to the rest of the world, working for years to bring justice and peace in their land?

1 comment:

  1. Rachy, I am neither America nor European as you know, however I think this prize means more responsibilities for all of the leader. You are welcome to check my thoughts regarding this over my blog.