Obama won Nobel for inspiring hope

By Lauren Kelly

Much of the news media were in an uproar following the Oct. 9 announcement that President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Various media outlets questioned the decision, some saying that he was awarded the prize too soon, didn’t deserve it and that his race was involved in the decision.

The committee awarded the prize to Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to the committee’s official statement.

The award acknowledges a person’s actions during the 12 months prior to the decision, and voting happened two weeks after Obama took office. Therefore, the decision was largely based on his efforts during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Looking at the issue from this position, Obama was rightly awarded the prize for his message of inspiration, hope and unity during his campaign, regardless of what he has done in the months following the committee’s decision.  He won for his intentions during the campaign, not the results he has produced since taking office. Obama is a charismatic leader that has an oratorical gift for diplomatic discussion on the world stage and he won the honor because he promoted peace in his campaign.

Obama would not have deserved the Nobel if the decision was based on his actions in the past 10 months. Between his troop surge in Afghanistan, his unwavering support of Israel and lack of action regarding equal marriage rights for homosexual couples, his actions, or lack thereof, are furthering the opposite of peace.

In a public comment regarding the unanimous decision, committee chairman  Thorbjørn Jagland said, “Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year. Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?”

There have been other questionable peace prize winners in the past, such as Henry Kissinger in 1973 and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, while other notable figures like Mahatma Gandhi have never won.

Receiving this award may motivate Obama to follow through on his campaign promises and he may prove that he deserved it in the three years of his presidency.

“I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes,” Obama said in his acceptance speech on Oct. 9. “And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action—a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”