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Advancing Progressive Ideas

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

George Nassar's picture

There were those who were originally thought that Chicago's loss in its bid to be the host city for the 2016 Olympics after Obama went to speak on its behalf was indicative of Obama's international standing not being as high as was originally thought. Those concerns can now be safely put to rest.

President Barack Obama has been declared the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee today. The award announcement states that Obama received the prize particularly due to "Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons," though the body of the announcement focuses more on Obama's hairpin turnaround of US foreign policy: "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position... Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts... 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." It also states that, "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.'"

Former Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the nominee who was considered by many the front-runner for the award this year, commended the Committee's decision. But some, like Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri and Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the conservative Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami party, as well as some local conservative critics, have been critical of the choice, saying that Obama had not yet done anything of substance to merit the prize.

Even so, the response overall has been overwhelmingly positive, indicating that the international community considers the refocusing of the direction of United States foreign policy to in itself be a pivotal achievement in world politics -- particularly, one can imagine, after eight years of a foreign policy that prided itself on ignoring the best advice from the brightest minds around the world on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction specifically as well as more broadly on the limited utility of force in resolving "difficult international conflicts."

The last United States president to receive the award was President Jimmy Carter, who received the prize in 2002 for his work leading to the Camp David Accord during his presidency as well as his work for Middle East peace in the years following. The last time a sitting United States president received a Nobel Peace Prize was in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson received the prize for founding the League of Nations.

EDIT: Turns out Josh Micah Marshall reads our blog! (Hey, a guy can dream, right?) Seriously, the Talking Points Memo story hits upon the same point as we do: that turning around American direction on foreign policy from where it was going for the past eight years is in and of itself an accomplishment that the world sees as helping international peace and stability in a significant way.

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