Obama given Nobel to spur hopes of peace

Freedom New Mexico

Well, President Barack Obama is not the first, shall we say, nonobvious and, indeed, rather eccentric choice by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobody knows exactly what guided the five-member committee selected by the Norwegian Parliament; deliberations are kept secret for 50 years. So, we can only speculate.

The general criteria, according to Alfred Nobel’s will, is that the recognition should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The most obvious inference, of course, is that President Obama — if he was not chosen simply because he occupies the White House and is not George W. Bush — was chosen more for his aspirations and his eloquent words than for his accomplishments during eight months in office.

The elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace process is as elusive as ever. Preliminary talks with Iran have produced nothing concrete. Russia is no more democratic or less threatening to certain neighbors. North Korea remains intransigent. The war in Iraq has been slow to wind down. On the day the prize was announced the president was scheduled to meet with his war Cabinet to continue deliberations on whether to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Some speculate the Norwegian lawmakers mainly want to recognize the president’s aspirations and hope the prize will push him and the world toward accomplishment of some of those lofty goals. But a close reading of the committee’s citation reveals another curiosity — confusing secondary political ideals and actions, with peace itself.

The Nobel committee cited several aspects of Obama’s advocacy, “attaching,” for example, “special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” But it is far from obvious that it would really increase peace. Indeed, some scholars argue that the presence of nuclear weapons has deterred war.

Likewise, the committee hailed the idea that “(m)ultilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other institutions can play.”

Again, it is hardly obvious that such an emphasis contributes in a concrete way to a more peaceful world.

We certainly congratulate President Obama on this signal honor. The suggestion here is that this prize was given to advance certain means that may or may not lead to more peace rather than peace itself.

Most curious.