Peace Prize Shock

October 9, 2009 | 102 comments
By

At first I thought it might be a joke of some kind. I waited for a “just kidding” qualification from the radio news announcer. Then the news item finished. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Barack Obama.

Now, I’m generally a supporter of the President. I voted for him, and unlike (apparently) most Mormons, I think he has great, but largely unrealized as yet, potential. At best, the peace prize seems premature.

I’m hardly alone. The editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe has already blogged, “For What?” And the London Times’ Michael Binyon called the decision “absurd,” saying “Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent.”

In the text of its announcement, the Nobel committee cited, “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and attached “special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” Really? When? What efforts?

It went on to say:

“Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations.

“Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

It is true that Obama’s huge International popularity has changed the environment in ways that may make a difference. And the attitude of U.S. foreign policy does seem like it is more willing to work with others. But so far this hasn’t yielded much.

Most politicians cite high, almost unattainable, goals. We want and expect them to give us a vision of how the world can be better. And it is true that Obama can communicate a vision of the future better than any U.S. President since at least Ronald Reagan. But even Obama supporters should, I think, prefer that he be given the opportunity to actually accomplish something toward these goals.

From a Mormon point of view, its as if the Nobel committee has turned into born-again Christians. Apparently all that is needed is to say that you believe, that you have faith. Actually doing something can come later. We, Mormons, believe works matter; and that the works must precede the reward.

All I can do now is hope that Obama can actually fulfill the promise this reward is meant to recognize.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

102 Responses to Peace Prize Shock

  1. Mark B. on October 9, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I heard it first on Imus in the Morning (which, by the way, is now simulcast on the Fox Business channel–from last Monday, it appears), and I thought it was Bernard making another joke.

    But it’s clear why Obama was awarded the prize this year: for not being George W. Bush.

  2. Christopher on October 9, 2009 at 7:33 am

    From a Mormon point of view, its as if the Nobel committee has turned into born-again Christians. Apparently all that is needed is to say that you believe, that you have faith. Actually doing something can come later. We, Mormons, believe works matter; and that the works must precede the reward.

    This seems like a pretty ham-handed attempt to include something—anything—to connect this post to Mormonism.

  3. gst on October 9, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Well, hopefully it will have some salutory effect on his self esteem, which has been dangerously low.

  4. ESO on October 9, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Maybe it was a consolation for Copenhagen.

    I’m with you–I am as big a supporter as anyone, but I kinda feel bad for the guy. You know this is going to drive conservatives bonkers–I really hope it won’t make people even more resolved NOT to cooperate with his attempts at good deeds just to spite the Oslo committee.

    I would be happier to have had this awarded for specific ACTIONS rather than ideals or speeches in the years (many) to come. That said, I do think that a change of tone in world diplomacy is no small thing, and very very welcomed by just about every non-American and many Americans.

    If I were his speech-writer, I would make sure to include the American people in this award for choosing to elect him and go in a different direction than we had been.

  5. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Kent,

    It should be noted that Alfred Nobel was the man who invented dynamite, and was shocked when the military began using his discovery to kill people. Most likely the committee who awarded this prize to Obama was really impressed with his push to demilitarize nuclear technology, which is at the heart of the origination of the Peace Prize.

    Mark also makes the other obvious point (which of course has not been lost on anyone). They awarded this prize to Obama because he was not Bush. These Norwegians wanted to send a message to Americans that putting presidents like Bush in power is not good for America’s image, at least to the Norwegians. George Bush set the bar so low for an American president that makes Obama look so refreshingly divine when really he’s fairly standard. He speaks lofty, and he presses for goals that may not be achieved in his time as president. That’s fairly normal. But coming after the utter debacle that was George W. Bush, it’s so refreshing. I think it went to the heads of those who vote for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    That all said, you can see in the history of the award that generally leftists are awarded. Al Gore won in 2007. Jimmy Carter won in 2002 (no doubt as a slight against Bush for his push on going to war in Iraq) for “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” SNAP!

    Also back to my original point, nuclear technology is big in their sights. In 2005, they awarded the prize to the IAEA for “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way”. In 1997 they awarded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines for “their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.” In 1995 they awarded Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for “their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms”.

    And so on. If conservatives wish to win the Nobel Peace Prize, they need to press for peace in the world, and the removal of nuclear weapons around the world (including in the US). Otherwise, you will never see a conservative win this prize.

  6. Tim J on October 9, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Must have been a down year for peace.

    The thing that makes me scratch my head is that Obama was in office all of 2 weeks when the nominations were due.

  7. gst on October 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Maybe now he’ll agree to meet with the Dalai Lama.

  8. gst on October 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Dan, I agree with you that the promise of unilateral surrender of our nukes is what makes the President so popular with European elites, like the Nobel committee. Why Americans should be cheered by that, however, isn’t perfectly clear to me.

  9. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Looks like I got the thing about Alfred Nobel wrong. I went back to check, and no, he was not disturbed by dynamite being used in war (I think I got my two discoverers Oppenheimer and Nobel mixed up). In fact, Nobel apparently said:

    My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.

    Heh, he may have been a chemist, but he didn’t seem to understand the chemistry of human relations. Nor Oppenheimer, who said this about the nuclear bomb:

    The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.

    heh, yeah right.

    Anyway, sorry for the screwup.

  10. gfe on October 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I agree that it’s way, way too soon for that kind of recognition. He’s barely into his first term, and there’s still no way to know what his legacy will be. If nothing else, I think the decision is a slap at George Bush, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it interpreted as such. I think giving the award to Obama so early cheapens the award.

    On the other hand, I admire Obama for following through on his promises to do something about those who have been detained for years by the U.S. without even the prospect of a trial. That practice by the Bush administration goes against everything our Constitution stands for, and I find it appalling that our Congress is doing everything it can to make obstacles for Obama in that regard. So if this award does something to help Obama establish a policy that recognizes the rights of those accused, I’m all for it.

  11. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 8:07 am

    gst,

    What unilateral surrender?

  12. gst on October 9, 2009 at 8:11 am
  13. Alex Valencic on October 9, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Well, I’m glad that I’m not the only one who is confused by this award. I can see it being given in four years, after Pres. Obama has done something, but, thus far, I haven’t seen him do anything to merit winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

    And if his speech-writers say anything about the “American people” in his response to winning, it will only add to the pile of nonsense. The award was not given to the American people through the POTUS. It was given to Barack Obama.

    Dan (#11), did you not hear? Pres. Obama wants all nations with nuclear weapons to get rid of them at the same time. Apparently, if the good guys don’t have the weapons, then the bad guys will stop trying to make them and the world will be a better place… Wait… that doesn’t make sense…

  14. Anne (U.K) on October 9, 2009 at 8:30 am

    from my time zone advantage, I have spent the morning watching the reaction from the US as various areas and media outlets woke up to this news. It’s been enlightening, and entertaining.

    My personal take is I feel a little sorry for him, and I bet he is embarrassed. Slightly previous, no matter how good his intentions. Maybe in 3 years’ time. From a European POV, he has scrapped that flipping defence system due to be positioned here,for which I (as one who protested against cruise missiles stationed here in the 80’s) am grateful.

    As for:

    “The editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe has already blogged, “For What?” And the London Times’ Michael Binyon called the decision “absurd,” saying “Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent.” ”

    remember that these outlets are owned by News Corp. You may as well be quoting Fox, for any lack of bias displayed therein.

  15. Cameron on October 9, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Well, I don’t think the peace prize means anything anymore. Bill Clinton spent what, 5 years meeting with Israel/Palestine, and Obama gets it for a few nice international speeches and saying it would be nice to have less nukes? I wonder if the ‘have a beer’ episode pushed him over the top?

    Also, Alex is spot on about nukes and MAD. There are thousands of nukes and not one of them has gone off since WW2. That’s pretty successful IMO.

  16. ESO on October 9, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Anne–I am with you on all of it.

    Dan–I wouldn’t want to diminish Carter’s Nobel by saying he got it as a reaction against Bush. I think it was given for the work that the Carter Center does all over the world, which I believe to be highly regarded in the international aid community. At least I highly regard it.

  17. John Mansfield on October 9, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Here are the American citizens who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize over the last 60 years:

    Ralph Bunch, ’50; George C. Marshall, ’53; Linus Pauling, ’62; Henry Kissinger, ’73; Elie Wiesel, ’86; Jody Williams, ’97; Jimmy Carter, ’02; Al Gore, ’07; Barack Obama, ’09.

    So, about one awardee each decade, until this decade, when it became necessary to recognize U.S. Presidents (past, present, or almost but not quite) three times. What cut of their 25 million krona do those men owe George W. Bush?

  18. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Alex

    #13,

    Dan (#11), did you not hear? Pres. Obama wants all nations with nuclear weapons to get rid of them at the same time. Apparently, if the good guys don’t have the weapons, then the bad guys will stop trying to make them and the world will be a better place… Wait… that doesn’t make sense…

    How is that a unilateral surrender?

    ESO

    #16, I don’t mean to diminish Carter’s work either. The fault lies with this committee which times their decisions politically. Could not Carter have received this award at a different time? While Bush presses for destroying Iraq, the Nobel committee gives Carter the Nobel Prize.

    John,

    #17

    So, about one awardee each decade, until this decade, when it became necessary to recognize U.S. Presidents (past, present, or almost but not quite) three times. What cut of their 25 million krona do those men owe George W. Bush?

    I’m glad you recognize that Al Gore was the legitimate president in 2000. :)

  19. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Doh, I’m having a tough time this morning. I just caught John’s (almost but not quite). My bad.

  20. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

    This is an interesting idea that has some merit. Should Obama decline the award?

  21. Kent Larsen on October 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Dan (20) that’s a great link. What a statement of integrity that would be. “I haven’t yet done something to deserve the award, so I’m declining.”

    Of course, there might be some fall out over giving the Nobel committee a slap in the face. I’ll be the Norwegian people wouldn’t be too pleased either.

  22. Kent Larsen on October 9, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Christopher (2), that wasn’t my intention — and here on T&S there is NO requirement for a Mormon connection that I’m aware of.

    If anything, I’ll admit to a dig at born-again Christians in our old debate over grace v. works.

    But thanks for the slap in the face. I needed it :-)

  23. Anne (U.K) on October 9, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I see they’ve delayed the news conference at which President Obama is due to talk about the award. Here’s hoping someone from the Graun is on the phone mooting the ‘decline gracefully’ idea.

  24. Geoff B on October 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Next years’s winner: Hugo Chavez.

  25. bbell on October 9, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I am as surprised as BO probably is. I think this may hurt him politically. This is not of his own doing of course. Michelle and Barack probably were totally shocked this AM when they woke up to the news.

    There has in recent years been a serious left wing bent to many of the awards. This is not to surprising considering that the awards are coming from Swedish socialists. What is funny is that American military power including nukes is what prior to 1990 or so allowed those same Swedish socialists a respite from the threat of Soviet aggression. Which makes their opposition to nuclear weapons all the more ironic.

  26. John Mansfield on October 9, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Hmmm. I missed a couple that should have been on the list in comment 17: Martin Luther King, ’64; Norman Borlaug, ’70.

  27. Hans Hansen in California on October 9, 2009 at 9:37 am

    re: #17. “What cut of their 25 million krona do those men owe George W. Bush?”

    Since this prize is a Norwegian one: Norsk krone, plural is kroner.

    That said, what were these crazy Norwegians thinking? Typical that my fellow landsmenn would pull a stunt like this!

    Let’s see…Obama took office on January 20th at 12:00 noon EST. The Nobel deadliine was February 1st. Not even 2 weeks and what did Obana accomplish during that time? Bupkis. Nada. Or to put it in Norwegian terms: ingen ting!

    Now since the Nobel Peace Prize has lost all value, maybe they should rename it the Nobel Pizza Prize and award Obama a large pepperoni pizza in Oslo. I know of a great pizza place (American-owned) just a few blocks from the University of Oslo that could provide the “award”!

  28. Christopher on October 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Kent, sorry for the “slap in the face.” I know there’s no requirement for a Mormon connection here at T&S, and that’s why that paragraph stood out to me as particularly forced and unnecessary. For what it’s worth, I agree that the award is at best premature and do appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

  29. John Mansfield on October 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Hans Hansen, looking at the Nobel web site (link and link), it appears that the peace prize is paid out in Swedish kronor just like the other prizes. Too bad, since NOK 10 million is currently worth SEK 12.4 million.

  30. Ryan Bell on October 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I find this announcement encouraging.

    I’m going to submit my name next year, and am now quite a bit more optimistic about my chances.

  31. sister blah 2 on October 9, 2009 at 10:16 am

    So, Ryan, are you saying that when I travel to Africa I’ll see rainbow murals of your face painted on the side of shantytown cardboard “houses,” like my sister saw of Obama this summer? Good luck with that.

  32. Rameumptom on October 9, 2009 at 10:17 am

    As I note on my blog, http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/

    1. It is a consolation prize from the people of Stockholm for giving the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

    2. It is Stockholm’s way of saying thanks for not bombing them after humiliating him (Pres Obama) in front of the whole world.

  33. sister blah 2 on October 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Ma href=” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/22887506#22887506 “>Obama’s statement upon winning the award addresses a lot of the complaints people have. He acknowledges that most of the work isn’t done yet, may not even be done by the end of his presidency, or even his lifetime. This is a humble acceptance.

  34. sister blah 2 on October 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Hm, link is weird, sorry.

  35. gst on October 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Blah, of course his acceptance speech was humble. They all are. Has anyone ever accepted the prize by saying “In your face, bitches!”?

  36. Tim J on October 9, 2009 at 10:43 am

    “The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists – the Taliban and Hamas this morning – in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told POLITICO.

    And the line continues to blur.

  37. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Tim,

    That’s getting close to the level that Republicans get to.

  38. Peter LLC on October 9, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Feigned humility=“In your face, bitches!” in diplomatic parlance.

  39. Tim J on October 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

    “That’s getting close to the level that Republicans get to.”

    Thus the blurred line.

  40. Peter LLC on October 9, 2009 at 11:03 am

    24: Next years’s winner: Hugo Chavez.

    I’m going to go post this on M* and see how long till I get banned.

  41. Peter LLC on October 9, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Really? When? What efforts?

    You’re not much into non-proliferation and disarmament are you?

  42. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 11:22 am

    On the one hand, I’m surprised and concerned. Surprised, because despite the fact that there is a general hopefulness in international circles about the likelihood of meaningful steps toward a more peaceful world as compared to a few years ago and the biggest ex-factor in that process does seem to be Obama, he still hasn’t actually accomplished much of anything other than the turnaround in tone and attitude. Concerned (on Obama’s behalf) that this will cheapen a potential future award. If, for example, he manages to broker some kind of lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, that would make him a shoe-in for the prize. A prize which he already won for getting everyone’s hopes up.

    On the other hand, I’m not remotely surprised by the skeptical reaction among American conservatives. In their (gleeful) reaction to the failed Chicago olympic bid, they already signaled that their dislike of the Obamas outstrips their love of and pride in America. As if there are any accomplishments (short of switching parties and invading Iran) that would make American conservatives think Obama had earned this.

  43. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Tim,

    Just as long as Republicans don’t mind a taste of their own medicine. They clearly hate America right now. They cheer for America losing an Olympic bid, and they scorn an American president for winning a prestigious award. Frankly, they deserve far worse than what the wimpy Democrats dole out.

  44. E on October 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I disagree with the idea the the President should have declined the award. I think it is truly bizarre and embarassing for the Nobel Committee to have selected him, but it is not his fault that they did it. Declining the prize would only insult the committee and aggravate the situation. I think his response to his selection was the best that could be done. Being gracious is never wrong.

  45. CJ Douglass on October 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

    What Brad said – but I’ll take it a step further. I think this will be bad for Obama politically. The last thing the man needs is more evidence that the masses have anointed him messiah without a shred of accomplishment.

    The award lost some credibility today – and that’s coming from liberal.

  46. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Did the award have credibility when Henry Kissinger won it?

  47. Steve Evans on October 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

    How about saying, “congratulations,” and recognizing that this award only improves the profile of America in the world. Even if it’s too soon, it’s an amazing award to receive and we should be proud of him.

  48. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

    On the subject of past American winners and non-winners, I think that two stand out as glaring omissions on the part of the NPP committee: Ronald Reagan and David Petraeus.

  49. Mark B. on October 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

    He probably deserves it as much as Al Gore did, except that Obama didn’t invent the internet. Or Gore-tex.

  50. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Brad,

    Ronald Reagan did not end the Cold War. Gobachev did. And the Nobel committee rewarded him in 1990 for it. Reagan also had numerous dubious foreign policy debacles, such as selling weapons to Iran and funding the Contras with that money.

    As for Petraeus, why would he be in consideration for a peace prize? What efforts has he actually made to stop fighting?

  51. dangermom on October 9, 2009 at 11:52 am

    OK, but did the Internet and all its flamewars really increase the amount of peace in the world? :D

    The whole thing’s kind of embarrassing for Obama. I don’t think it’s going to help him politically. OTOH, the fits the hard right are throwing are pretty pointless; it’s not like he was campaigning for this. Oh well.

  52. S.P. Bailey on October 9, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Greatest practical joke evar! THIS is how you punk a cocky politician with a golden tongue and no meaningful achievements! The Nobel Committee frat boys strike again!

  53. Ronan on October 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Forget it and move on.

  54. S.P. Bailey on October 9, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize based on his dreamy oratory skillz = the Best Picture Academy Award going to an unproduced movie based on a really awesome pitch to studio executives.

  55. Tim J on October 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    “They clearly hate America right now.”

    And the line blurs a little more…

  56. Hans Hansen in California on October 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    re: #32.: “1. It is a consolation prize from the people of Stockholm for giving the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

    2. It is Stockholm’s way of saying thanks for not bombing them after humiliating him (Pres Obama) in front of the whole world.”

    What in the world does Stockholm, SWEDEN have to do with it? The IOC meeting in Copenhagen, DENMARK are the ones who decided on Rio.

    The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is made up of 5 members of the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) and the prize is awarded in Oslo, NORWAY. Leave the Swedes out of this. We have only the 5 crazy Norwegians to blame for this farce!

  57. Anne (U.K) on October 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Brad 48:

    I can only assume your post was meant to be ironic. Reagan? The same man who invaded (British) Grenada without telling us he intended to, wasted trillions on Star Wars, based nuclear and cruise missiles all around the world in direct opposition to the wishes of the locals; Iran Contras, El Salvador, the bombing of Libya which in all likelihood led to Lockerbie.

    Peace prize?

  58. dangermom on October 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Arafat got it. What does killing people have to do with the Peace Prize?

  59. bbell on October 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I would also put R. Reagan on my list of deserving Nobel winners. Hundreds of millions of Eastern Europeans free from the shackles of their communist overlords as a result of politically defeating the Soviets is far more impressive then say a documentary movie.

    I would say that the idea that Reagan spent trillions on star wars is a catagorically false statement. Trillions would represent at a minimum 2 trillion dollars. Reagens defense budgets totalled about 4 trillion dollars. A minor percentage was spent on Star Wars.

  60. Jeremy on October 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I’m surprised at this announcement as well. I’m a pretty fervent Obama supporter, but, as someone said on the radio said this morning (I paraphrase): “How said that the world has such a dearth of heroes that we have to award their good deeds in advance.”

    On the other hand, it’s really quite rich to watch people on the far right, who were proclaiming Obama’s failure and calling him the worst president ever even before the inauguration confetti was swept up, now suddenly scolding the Nobel committee for casting premature judgments.

  61. John Mansfield on October 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    And remember, especially on this day of lunar bombardment in search of water, that it was Clementine that first detected water on the moon’s surface. And who paid for Clementine, the first spacecraft to return to the moon since Apollo? BMDO. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, previously the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization AKA Star Wars.

  62. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    bbell,

    The man who freed Eastern Europeans from their shackles has already been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That was Gorbachev.

  63. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Anne

    #57

    Don’t forget that under Reagan the military shot down the Iranian civilian airplane. Most Americans have completely forgotten about that.

    Then again, if Arafat or Kissinger can get the Nobel Prize (which was deserved), so can Reagan.

  64. Nathan on October 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    “All I can do now is hope that Obama can actually fulfill the promise this reward is meant to recognize.”

    Good luck with that. 7+ months into it and how many promises has he fulfilled? I see a trend continuing, especially if the Democrats lose the control of Congress in November, 2010.

  65. Rameumptom on October 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I think Pres Obama should have graciously turned this award down, thanking the committee and asking them to reconsider him after he’s had a little more time in office to get a few things done.
    This would not have offended the committee, and it would have made him look very good in the eyes of Americans and the world. Instead, he accepted an unearned award that many others actually deserved much, much, much more.

  66. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I think actually sitting down with Gorbachev and negotiating a wide range of things including nuclear disarmament (which drove American conservatives positively insane) facilitated much of what Gorbachev was able to practically accomplish in the way of reform. I think Reagan was a very important factor, notwithstanding all the problems I otherwise have with his policies, foreign and domestic, not by doing all the things that the the Right wanted him to do, but by moving beyond all the hysterical, Manichean logic that drove his initial approach and most of his supporters.

    I think Petraeus did two things that are significant: he articulated and implemented a counterinsurgency strategy and program that is not only orders of magnitude more effective than those developed by Vietnam era military strategists, but that is rooted in a strategic (pace Clausewitz) vision that eschews Vietnam era notions of absolute victory. It is a strategic approach that is relatively effective and less harmful to non-combatant populations. Plus, he seems to have persuaded GWB to ignore Cheney, fire Rumsfeld, and fundamentally rethink his entire vision of success in Iraq. That’s an impressive accomplishment that, I think, the world is better for in peace/conflict terms.

  67. Dan on October 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Brad,

    Because of Arafat and Kissinger, I’ll give you that Reagan should have shared the award with Gorbachev in 1990. It would have done much to show that the award doesn’t have a strong liberal bias that it does.

    However, Petraeus is a general, a warrior, a man trained to kill people. Note that, as best as I can tell, no warrior has been given the award for Peace. It’s not a slight against Petraeus, who is a smart man, but the award for Peace just does not go to soldiers who are tied to war. It is not the soldier who ends a war, but a politician. Petraeus is not in any position to actually get peace between Iraq’s fractious factions. Nor can he do the same in Afghanistan. He is there on the orders of the president. It is the president who guides the policy toward peace or war.

    I hope Obama uses this new award as a way out of both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is definitely way past time to stop our adventuring in land wars in Asia (which we are told is not a good thing to get into). :)

  68. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Good luck with that. 7+ months into it and how many promises has he fulfilled? I see a trend continuing, especially if the Democrats lose the control of Congress in November, 2010.

    Change takes time. It doesn’t matter how charismatic or popular you are, significant change, for better or worse, cannot be implemented by fiat. It took Lincoln more than three years to issue an Emancipation Proclamation, and it took Bush/Cheney 2 years plus major catastrophe to produce a significant change in US foreign policy. Obama seems content to continue to do now what he did during his campaigns: quietly work behind the scenes while his opponents loudly denounce what he’s doing, but, in the final analysis, accomplish what he set out to do. After all the drama of late summer and all the obstruction and incoherence of congressional action, health care reform has slow but steady momentum and he will be signing a major reform package — one that, in the long run, will be widely supported and considered a salutary accomplishment — by year’s end.

  69. Blake on October 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Giving Obama the Nobel is like giving a college diploma to a two year old because he shows promise. I love Obama’s rhetorical skills. Really, it is such a joy to listen to him after having been embarrassed by Bush’s drawling nonsense for 8 years that I don’t cringe anymore when the president speaks in the company of the British Prime Minister.

    I’m not an Obama supporter. I agree with Brad Kramer that Obama has brought change — big change. Yesterday the D-News reported in an article hidden on page A-7 that the prior year’s record budget deficit of $459 Billion was surpassed by the present record that more than triples that record at — get this — $ 1.4 trillion. Now that is a change! (And there won’t be any change left in our pockets when he’s done with adding $800 billion for his governmentally mandated insurance program so-called health plan.

    I can see why he won the Nobel. He has single-handedly made it impossible for the U.S. to afford weapons of any kind — and in a few weeks he will capitulate to the Taliban and allow a set-back to the conditions that existed prior to 9-11. Now that should bring us lasting peace!

  70. Larryco_ on October 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    A truly glorious day! At last we have a president who chooses to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16) as all Latter-day Saints and followers of Christ are commanded to do.

  71. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Good luck with that. 7+ months into it and how many promises has he fulfilled? I see a trend continuing, especially if the Democrats lose the control of Congress in November, 2010…. in a few weeks he will capitulate to the Taliban and allow a set-back to the conditions that existed prior to 9-11.

    Admin,
    You should probably note that somebody who clearly lacks Blake’s ability to write intelligently or analyze complicated things with something that remotely approaches nuance or sophistication (attributes for which Blake is generally well-known) is posting in Blake’s name on your site. Someone should probably alert Blake as well.

  72. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    The first part of the quotation in the above comment should be:

    And there won’t be any change left in our pockets when he’s done with adding $800 billion for his governmentally mandated insurance program so-called health plan.

  73. Peter LLC on October 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Giving Obama the Nobel is like giving a college diploma to a two year old because he shows promise.

    Actually, it isn’t. It’s like giving someone recognition for achieving the nearly impossible–generating momentum on the non-proliferation and disarmament agendas, issues that affect, literally, the entire world.

    I’m not surprised that Americans are surprised that their president is the object of international recognition–they’re too busy hating the idea of death panels to consider that maybe, just maybe, Obama is one of the few people on this planet capable of taking care of business. Or when was the last time you sponsored a resolution at the notoriously riven UNGA and managed to line up every single last country behind your proposal? That takes a rare form of leadership that might not be appreciated at home, but it’s fine by me if folks elsewhere find it worthy of accolade.

  74. Blake on October 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    No Brad — it is me. Anyone not alarmed by a $ 1.4 Trillion debt is lacking the ability to analyze — and that analysis doesn’t take a lot of nuance.

    Having said that — is a personal attack the best you can do?

  75. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    The biggest difference in deficit projections (aside from the recession) come from the fact that Obama includes the operating costs of prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in his budget, unlike the former administration. I guess that is change. The CBO just projected deficit neutrality (or even black) for the governmentally mandated insurance program so-called health plan. Maybe the sky is falling.

  76. Blake on October 9, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Pete LLC “generating momentum on the non-proliferation and disarmament agendas, issues that affect, literally, the entire world.”

    What are you talking about? The only one that did anything was the US which unilaterally disarmed.

  77. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Blake, can you really only manage an hour of Rush Limbaugh in between reading Kant and Whitehead?

  78. Blake on October 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Brad: For your info — the CBO doesn’t do its budgets any differently now than it did in prior years. Your claim is inaccurate (and smells of partisan gullibility).

    Perhaps for your notion of budget neutrality simply ignores 100s of billions in new taxes and fees and increases for most of insurance premiums. You call that neutral? Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog (sorry for the threadjack).

  79. bbell on October 9, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Brad, That CBO score was the result of cutting 400B from medicare and some tax increases. You think that a Medicare cut is politically possible?

    I also agree that the whole UN Nuke Disarmament scene was a disaster. I am expecting a Iranian Nuke test (unless the Isrealis act) in the next few years which will further demonstrate the folly of the UN.

  80. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Budget neutrality typically entails increased revenue sources, since new expenditures need offsetting. It is certainly not impeached by them.

  81. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    bbell,
    I’m shocked, shocked, that you expect events that will reinforce your preexisting ideas.

  82. Blake on October 9, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Brad: I don’t listen to Limbaugh (never have, never will). I read the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Economist and reports and CBO’s own analysis first-hand. You should give it a try in between glasses of anointed-one-Koolaid.

  83. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    If it will lead to the kinds of nuanced analysis and commentary you’ve graced us with here, I’ll be sure to try it.

  84. queuno on October 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    If I’m Augusto Pinochet’s family, I’m wondering where my Prize is…

  85. sister blah 2 on October 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Oh, stop it you two.

    Obama won a prize he didn’t ask for. Say “Congratulations” and move on.

  86. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    If you’re Pinochet’s family, just wait until American conservatives start their own alternate award.

  87. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Ronald Reagan canceled the MX missile system (a Jimmy Carter-supported program) that would have paved over half of Nevada and Utah to make it a vast game board where 10-warhead ICBMs would be randomly shuffled among hundreds of bunkers in an effort to force the Soviet Union to aim most of their warheads at them–while incidentally turning the remainder of Utah into a nuclear fallout zone that would be uninhabitable for 100+ years.

    Reagan proposed to Gorbachev drastic cuts to the nuclear forces of both sides in the Cold War. Previous treaties had simply tried to cap the number of new warheads. Reagan persuaded Gorbachev to help him get rid of more nuclear weapons than any other world leaders before or since.

    Reagan promoted anti-ballistic missile systems because they were a potential means to defend the United States and other free nations against nuclear attack without having to kill civilians with nuclear weapons. With an ABM system, you have an option to prevent the incineration of Seattle versus letting Seattle burn while you obliterate Novosibirsk. Isn’t that a more Christian way of dealing with a limited nuclear attack? Besides, the USSR had an active ABM system around Moscow (permitted under the ABM Treaty) and a phased array ABM radar at Krasnoyarsk (in violation of the ABM Treaty).

    Gorbachev reacted well to initiatives by Reagan and John Paul II and the Polish Catholics. The peace prize should have been awarded jointly to all three of them.

    It should be remembered that Gorbachev was kicked out in a coup by hardliners who wanted to reinstate Brezhnev-style military control over Eastern Europe. The fact that popular opposition in Russia deposed the hardliners had a lot to do with the example of popular uprisings in Poland. Gorbechev was effective only because Reagan and John Paul II believed the Soviet Union could fail.

    And here’s the LDS tie-in: In 1967, Hugh B. Brown spoke to a district conference in Abeno, Osaka, Japan, and told the congregation that some day some of them would serve as missionaries in Russia (among other prophecies). Only 5 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, that was a pretty remarkable prophecy.

  88. Trenden on October 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “They clearly hate America right now.”

    That was a dumb thing to write.

  89. Jeremy on October 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “Oh, stop it you two. Obama won a prize he didn’t ask for. Say “Congratulations” and move on.”

    Sister Blah 2 FTW!!!!

  90. Jeremy on October 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    “With an ABM system, you have an option to prevent the incineration of Seattle versus letting Seattle burn while you obliterate Novosibirsk.”

    Of course the other option you had with an ABM system was to prevent the incineration of Seattle AND obliterate Novosibirsk. You really think if they’d sent missiles, and we shot them down, we would have let them off with a “Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me”?

  91. Hans Benson on October 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    #27 – Hans in Sweden, don’t blame us Danes for the IOC and we won’t blame the Swedes for the Peace Prize. The meeting just happened to be in Copenhagen and the delegates were from around the world. Sorry Chicago, but you’re not that nice compared to Rio.

  92. DavidH on October 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    The prize, of course, throws gasoline on the fire of political disputes in the U.S. The reactions of the political right do not surprise me.

    My guess is that the award of the peace prize to Gorbachev did not endear him to his fellows in the Soviet Union. (For all I know, it threw gasoline on the fire of his opponents who thought he wanted peace and reform too much and which thoughts eventually unsuccessfully led them to stage a coup) Yet, as a non-Soviet, I perceive Gorbachev as a great hero.

    Perhaps, my friends on the right see awarding the prize to Obama as encouraging Obama and the U.S. to lower its profile too much, and to reject the historic U.S. views of its own exceptionalism and triumphalism (views which are held on steroids in the U.S. anglo LDS Church and in the U.S. conservative white evangelical Christian community ).

    FWIW, if on the committee, I would have waited a couple of years to award Obama the prize, but my wife, a less active republican, says she fully agrees with the committee for reasons similar to those articulated by Andrew Sullivan. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/10/all-over-the-world.html (“I see this prize as an endorsement of his extraordinary reorientation of world politics, and as an encouragement to see it through.”)

    Perhaps my wife and the committee are right. Notwithstanding the continued deep political division in the U.S., perhaps outside the U.S. there is a feeling of hope for peace that has been missing for a while. And while the award may not help the prospects for internal political peace within the U.S., it may help encourage peace in the rest of the world. If it does, I will be grateful, because non-U.S. human beings are my brothers and sisters as much as are my U.S. brothers and sisters.

  93. queuno on October 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    On a serious note – I think it’s great for the Big O and I can’t imagine why anyone would seriously suggest he’d turn it down (I’ve been reading this all day, including from Kaus).

    This does present a big risk for Obama – if thing don’t get better, the type of American who gets their political news from presidential debates might consider this to be Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” moment…

  94. Alison Moore Smith on October 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    #7

    Maybe now he’ll agree to meet with the Dalai Lama.

    Nah, he’s gotta finish Chavez’ book first. Priorities, priorities.

    Mostly, I’m just super excited to find out you can get a Nobel for your intentions! Super duper! What other honors can I get for just thinking about them?

    And I’m really looking forward to the day when all the countries who want to “cooperate” (to use my favorites Sesame Street term) disarm and all the countries that don’t want to cooperate, start stockpiling nukes. Fun times. Or does Obama have a plan to put a veil over the minds of everyone so that we just forget the technology?

  95. Russel.Geist on October 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    DavidH, so what I hear you and your wife saying is that, he may not have actually done anything to deserve the prize, but he has made many in the upper echelon of global intelligentsia “feel” better: about themselves; about their worldview; and about the various conferences they have convened on issues such as global warming, nuclear disarmament (e.g. North Korea and Iran, which so far haven’t yielded any results), and governing global banking and financial institutions by unelected committees.

    In this respect, the Nobel Peace Prize is analogous to the proverbial “dumbing down” of American education: you get to advance to the next grade just for showing up; no real accomplishments are necessary.

    The Nobel Peace Prize now means as much as blue ribbon of participation in a elementary school track and field day!

    Congratulations, President Obama, on your big blue ribbon. I have a drawer full of them, too.

  96. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 9, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Re #90: If you are familiar with nuclear war strategy, or just the movie treatments of the possibility of nuclear war being started by an accident (Fail Safe) or by a rogue commander (Dr. Strangelove, Spies Like Us) in conjunction with terrorists (The Sum of All Fears), having an option to respond to one or two nuclear weapons with an option that does not require incinerating New York or Moscow greatly lowers the risk that a “small” attack, even one launched in anger, would escalate into a full blown exchange in a burst of “use it or lose it” desperation.

    Besides, the same nuclear forces that deter us from launching a tit-for-tat strike on Novosibirsk NOW would deter us from doing so even after we had shot down a single Russian ICBM. For several years I was legal advisor to a HQ Strategic Air Command unit that was tasked with recovering control of all nuclear bomber and missile forces after an initial exchange and ensuring they stood cocked and ready to deter a second wave of attacks.

    What Reagan persuaded Gorbachev to do was to acknowledge that the only reason each side had so many nuclear weapons was to target the nuclear weapons of the other side. In that situation, there is a constant temptation to make a first strike, to take out the other side’s weapons before they can be launched against your own and become multiplied by MIRV (Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicle) warheads that can hit two or three of your own launch sites. Both sides were able to make major reductions without affecting their ability to attack normal military targets.

    With the dissolution of the USSR, many of the nuclear weapons based in the non-Russian republics were also simply demobilized. The US has gone from having an airborne command plane, on rotatiing shifts with 24-7 coverage that could launch missiles by radio even if their crews on the ground were dead, to just flying occasionally to maintain a capability. Missiles in silos have been de-targeted, creating a time-delay before they could be fired in anger. The NORAD Combat Operations Center inside Cheyenne Mountain has been put in mothballs. Nuclear bombers no longer stand alert, fueled and loaded with weapons, ready to take off on a few minutes’ notice. B-52s no longer are equipped to carry nuclear weapons. Most of our nuclear missile submarines have been decommissioned and their reactor cores are being placed in an open excavation here in Eastern Washington where Russian satellites can count them.

    Mr. Obama, when he talked about a world without nuclear weapons, did not give credit to Reagan for reversing the tide of increasing nuclear arms that had continued even under Jimmy Carter. Whatever criticism you may have of Reagan’s other decisions, by stopping the deployment of the MX missile, by negotiating major weapons reductions with Gorbachev, and by helping to push the Soviet Union into dissolution (including with his nascent program for defense against nuclear missiles), he helped create a world where Obama’s proposal actually has a possibility of someday becoming reality.

    Compared to those effulgent, real accomplishments in supporting international peace, Mr. Obama’s record of achieving real peace is ringingly hollow. The Nobel committee has simply spotlighted that utter lack of substance. They have given TV comedians their Christmas present.

  97. Russel.Geist on October 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Well said, Raymond.

  98. Eduard A. Erdtsieck on October 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I am overwhelmed! Is Jesus’ parable of the King’s son Wedding [Luke 14: 15-35], now being fulfilled? The unethical behavior of Walstreet and the immorality of our Congressmen and Senate and the abominations of our entertainment industry means that they “shall not eat of bread in the Kingdom of God.” The table of the Lord is polluted and even their meat is contemptible in the eyes of the Father.

    Is the American dream and the Great Awaknings a thing of the past? Some Americans see this new order under President Obama as a personal threat. Is it! Or is it a fulfilment of biblical prophecy.

    The Lord of Host speaking to the Prophet Malachi said: “My name shall be great among the Gentiles and in every place incense shall be offered in My name, a pure offering. My name shall be great among the Gentiles.”

    Has the lawlessness of American Christian world governance seen its days? Remember, it started out with exploitation of black slaves. We are in the process of being governed by the Gentiles.

    Thanks to Joseph Smith, Jr; Latter-day saints will continue to be able to present “a pure offering” in His 130 temples. The children of Father in heaven always have been strangers in this fallen world.

    edu

  99. Hans Hansen (THE NORWEGIAN) in California on October 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Re: 91.#27 – Hans in Sweden, don’t blame us Danes for the IOC and we won’t blame the Swedes for the Peace Prize. The meeting just happened to be in Copenhagen and the delegates were from around the world. Sorry Chicago, but you’re not that nice compared to Rio. – Comment by Hans Benson

    Hans in Sweden?

    I am Hans Hansen (THE NORWEGIAN) in California.

  100. Hans Hansen (THE NORWEGIAN) in California on October 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Olympics in Rio: party on, dudes!

  101. queuno on October 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes. — State Dept. Spokesman PJ Crowley

    Now, let’s discuss the impact of the Obama administration on foreign missionary work versus that of the Bush administration.

  102. Kent Larsen on October 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    We’ve reached more than 100 comments, and beat the horse to death.

    I’m closing the comments.