Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the fact that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s the rare sort of issue that unites both liberals and conservatives: “Barack won the Nobel Peace Prize?!? He hasn’t done anything!” And I don’t have much to add to that. But I will quote a post on The Nation’s blog, from Katrina Vanden Heuvel:

I think those who argue that the Prize is cheapened are just plain silly. The Prize doesn’t go to only those who have succeeded in their efforts, nor is it a lifetime achievement award. Instead, it is often and wisely given to endorse and encourage those who are working to bring about a better and more peaceful world. As Thorbjorn Jagland, the Committee’s new Chair, said: “It’s important for the committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic, but we cannot do that every year. We must from time go into the real of realpolitik. It is always a mix of idealism and realpolitik that can change the world.”
It’s not a prize they give to people who have done something for peace—at least not always—but a prize that is sometimes given to someone who has promise of doing something for peace, which is what they’ve done in this case.

And, to put things in perspective, another quote from that same article:
Finally, for those who are really worried about the devaluing of the Peace Price (and this crowd includes people who’ve been bashing peace for decades), remember that Henry Kissinger is a previous winner. (Or, as Maureen Dowd put it, “Any peace prize that goes to Henry Kissinger but not Gandhi ain’t worth a can of Alpo.”)
Not that I’m arguing that they were right to award the prize to him. I’m reserving judgement on that. I just wanted to reemphasize an alternate point of view. And frankly, Maureen Dowd is right: They never gave the award to Gandhi, and they gave it to frigging Henry Kissinger. Kissinger! Frankly, if they felt that Henry Kissinger deserved a Nobel Peace Prize, then I don’t really have a lot of faith in their judgement.

My point? I have none.

No, wait! My point is this: Take the award away from Obama, and give it posthumously to Gandhi. And take Kissinger’s award, put it in a lead box, coat it in cement, throw it in the ocean, and pretend that it never happened.