Peace in our Time

Give President Obama this much.  He came to office promising climate change and, according to the committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize, in nine short months in office he has achieved it.

Barack Obama, of course, has not lowered global temperatures, carbon emissions or rising sea-levels.  Instead, the Norwegian Nobel Committee believes Mr. Obama deserves this distinction because he has given the world “hope for a better future.”  This arises from his “vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons” and his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

The Committee also enthused about Obama’s ensuring that “multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.”  And, thanks to the President, “dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.”

In short, the Committee credited the President with having “created a new climate in international politics.”  For that achievement, he has just earned $1.4 million.  (Fortunately for Mr. Obama, the Prize is actually given in Swedish crowns, a currency that may hold its value better than his own between now and the award ceremony in December.)

Sadly, these accolades ignore a natty reality:  Just as President Obama has not changed the planet’s atmospheric conditions, he has nothing to show for his climate change in other areas, either.  For example, none of the world’s other nuclear powers – not one – has promised to follow his lead in disarming their nations.  Neither, needless to say, have states like North Korea and Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are the most troubling.

Claiming that “dialogue and negotiations” are now “preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts” is not the same thing as saying that these instruments have actually resolved any international conflicts, let alone the most difficult ones.  Nor is it possible to credit Mr. Obama with using these instruments thus far particularly effectively.

Perhaps the most revealing of the justifications offered by the Nobel Committee for its rewarding with its Peace Prize a man whose accomplishments are principally oratorical rather than substantive is its claim that “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

Now, President Obama’s diplomacy may be aligned with the values and attitudes of the majority of the world’s governments – comprised as that majority is of repressive regimes that see diplomacy as a way to legitimate and perpetuate their rule, not advance the well being of their populations, let alone that of “the majority” of the world.  Far from being worthy of the Committee’s high praise, such an alignment is a blight on America’s reputation.  It disserves this country’s interests and those of people worldwide who aspire to freedom (surely a majority of the globe’s population).

The panel summarized the ethereal (not to say surreal) nature of the justification for its award by declaring that “For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that ‘Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'”

In other words, the Nobel Committee really, really likes Barack Obama and what he stands for.  After all, he epitomizes the transnationalist nostrums and wooly-headed prescriptions the Committee has endorsed for decades.  Never mind that there is no more prospect they will conduce to peace in our time than they have in the past, let alone that Mr. Obama has to date proven otherwise.

The true justification of this exercise seems to be once again an effort by the folks in Oslo to demonstrate how much they really, really do not like George W. Bush.  Having given Jimmy Carter its Peace Prize in 2002 as an acknowledged slap at the then-incumbent U.S. President, having slammed the latter’s approach to “global warming” by awarding the Peace Prize in 2007 to Al Gore and a gaggle of like-minded UN scientists, conferring this tribute on Mr. Bush’s as-yet-unaccomplished successor is evidence not just of the far-left ideological orientation of the Norwegian panel, but of its pettiness.

If, against all odds, President Obama actually produces genuine peace in our time, he would certainly deserve international recognition and thanks from all of us.  Until then, neither the Nobel Committee nor the affinity many in the press and public feel for his rhetoric and agenda should mislead the rest of us into thinking he has actually earned the Peace Prize.

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