Nobel’s Pat on the Back Won’t Bring Home Troops

Only nine months into his term, President Barack Obama was handed the most prestigious award for peace in the world — and he hasn’t done a damn thing to deserve it.

Since its inception over 100 years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize has been the highest form of international peace props you can score. Greats like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela are among a few of the prize’s past recipients — people who lived for their respective causes and took radical action for a better future.

Not to get nitpicky, but Alfred Nobel’s will says the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Simply put, the awardee usually can’t be, say, leading two wars and serving as overseer of Torture Island.

Apparently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee was able to overlook such details and focus on the president’s efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and decrease the world’s nuclear missile stockpile.

True, Obama has advocated that world leaders agree to collectively eliminate over 200 of the 1,700 nukes currently in existence. Of course, it’s a step in the right direction, but might not be the most concrete accomplishment. I’m pretty sure Jong and Medvedev didn’t trash their nukes the moment he said that.

A much more important factor of peace is the whole not-fighting-and-killing thing. In this category, Obama sacked a Nobel Peace Prize as reasonably as Rush Limbaugh might earn a lifetime achievement award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

First, let’s consider our war in Afghanistan. Since Obama took office, 21,000 more soldiers have been deployed to posts around the war-battered country. His top military advisors have recommended sending an additional 40,000 troops in the near future, and the president has consistently referred to Afghanistan as the “just” war, signaling no end to the bloodshed.

Taliban or not, the war in Afghanistan is still a war, and more than enough citizens have paid the price on both sides.

Old Nobel would be stirring in his grave if he knew that the most recent recipient of his esteemed award had actually increased the standing armies abroad.

Nobel also probably wouldn’t have appreciated a little place called Guantanamo Bay. One of Obama’s first initiatives as president was to close the island prison on the island of Cuba that currently houses some 250 suspected terrorists. During a Bush administration that saw the bastardization of American values under the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay became its paragon. Shutting down the prison would have been a fantastic start for Obama’s projected plan of change. But after encountering a strong opposition in Congress, where it faced a 90-6 vote, Obama shelved his plan to close Guantanamo.

I understand the bureaucratic nightmare that would have awaited Obama had he tried to overcome a 90-6 vote, but the fact that he immediately gave up and hasn’t mentioned it since makes me question how sincere he was about ever actually closing the prison in the first place. Perhaps it was simply a way to market himself.

While previous Nobel Prize winners were awarded for persistence in the face of serious adversity, Obama was given the same award after losing a staring contest with House Republicans.

Granted, I do believe that Obama has done a great deal to improve the U.S.’s global image after eight horrendous years of President George W. Bush’s administration. I was lucky enough to be in Egypt after he spoke there last spring, where locals were thrilled to talk to me about our new president.

Obama’s successful public relations shouldn’t go unnoticed, but they hardly warrant a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s commissioner, Thorbjoern Jagland, said last week that Obama’s actions to date “have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension.” If the qualifications for a Nobel Peace Prize now include simply decreasing tension, we could have saved a lot of trouble by just treating all the world’s leaders to a day at a shiatsu massage parlor.

For eight years under Bush we were frustrated, depressed and bitter. Obama came along and offered a large body of people some hope. They latched on to Obama’s “change” wagon and rediscovered feelings of national pride that had disappeared long ago.

There were a few of us out there who were critical of Obama’s actual program from the start, but the majority saw him as the savior of American politics, both here and abroad.

The simple truth is that Obama isn’t a savior. He won’t fix all our problems, and of course no single person ever can — but chances are, he won’t even come close.

I hope Obama will do great things one day, but for now, he’s drifting on a worldwide public-relations campaign and a never-ending bouquet of flowery speeches.

After winning the award, Obama said he was “surprised and deeply humbled” — and I believe him. Even Obama himself doesn’t think he deserves the award. Yet here he is, one Nobel Peace Prize richer.

Not every prizewinner has succeeded on the MLK/Mother Teresa level, so I’m not saying that Obama has that requisite.

But after nine months of unfulfilled promises, endless warring and an open torture center, can we really hail the president as any sort of peacekeeper?

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