Why President Obama Deserves the Nobel Prize

The creator of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was not a war profiteer except in the minds of those that don’t read history.  The perception that he was lead to his creation of the Nobel prizes.  He created the Peace Prize as an act of atonement for that which was yet to be done in his name. The Nobel Peace Prize was the most nebulous of the five prizes created and from his last will and testament was to be for those that during the preceding year […] 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 world is filled with hate, fear, hopeless and helplessness.  T here are those that would profit from this by making war, creating more hate, fear, hopelessness and helplessness and thereby making  more profit. So we must not forget Theodore Roosevelt’s words as he accepted the 1906 Nobel Peace prize:

There is at least as much need to curb the cruel greed and arrogance of part of the world of capital, to curb the cruel greed and violence of part of the world of labor, as to check a cruel and unhealthy militarism in international relationships.

These were no idle words from a Liberal Republican that would become a Progressive. He would go on to say:

No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.

Elihu Root, Republican defender of the robber barons and Peace Prize winner of 1912, also found atonement in arbitrating peace after profiting from defending theft:

The humanitarian purpose of Alfred Nobel in establishing the peace prize which bears his name was doubtless not merely to reward those who should promote peace among nations, but to stimulate thought upon the means and methods best adapted, under the changing conditions of future years, to approach and ultimately attain the end he so much desired.

The first Democrat to be the benefactor of the Progressive Era, was the Conservative * Woodrow Wilson, the 1919 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He commented on the peculiar grouping of prizes thusly:

There is indeed a peculiar fitness in the grouping of these Nobel rewards. The cause of peace and the cause of truth are of one family. Even as those who love science and devote their lives to physics or chemistry, even as those who would create new and higher ideals for mankind in literature, even so with those who love peace, there is no limit set. Whatever has been accomplished in the past is petty compared to the glory and promise of the future.

What is most notable about these three highly successful men who fought long for the common man is that they were awarded the Peace Prize for a single meager attempt at sustained peace, although frequently they achieved larger victories otherwise, ultimately they failed to prevent the two world wars.  The small accomplishment of the year prior to the prize is its rationale and only shows an expression of the winner’s intent to achieve peace. It was an intent that shaped each of their life’s work from that day forward.

It is with these thoughts that I measure the Peace Prize that was won by President Obama.  Alfred Nobel established it to atone for his perceived wrongs that he had not committed, but the future surely would commit. Each winner through one or a few small deeds in the prior year backed by a lifetime of thought and speech changed the temper of their times, each  turned to the plight of the common man and ultimately to peace to give back what was so bountiful in their life, each was involved in war as much as they were involved in peace, each was as much a thinker as a doer, each may share Nobel’s intent to atone for perceived wrongs beyond what can reasonably be expected.  Such is the character of a Peace Prize winner; such is the character of each American that has won the prize.  I am proud of our country as the beacon on the hill that all look up to and most proud when we earn it.

For a look from the other side you might want to click here.

* Note that in the election of 1912 of the three candidates running Theodore Roosevelt was considered a socially liberal Progressive and was mostly Republican in regard to being a hawk on the war, whereas Woodrow Wilson came from a Conservative Southern Democratic background and was a social conservative, who happened to have some progressive ideas.  Of the two, todays liberals would consider Theodore Roosevelt more of a liberal and Woodrow Wilson more of a bigot.


6 responses to this post.

  1. […] Why President Obama deserves the Nobel Prize « Ishtarmuz's Blog ishtarmuz.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/why-president-obama-deserves-the-nobel-prize – view page – cached Posted by ishtarmuz in Uncategorized. Tagged: Nobel Prize Barack Obama. Leave a Comment — From the page […]


  2. When on October 9, 2009, Barack Obama became the fourth U.S. president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the world’s most prestigious human affairs honor, it was viewed both by giver and recipient as an act of faith that would be justified by future actions. President Obama himself said it was more “a call to action” than a recognition of any specific accomplishment. In explaining its bold faith-based gesture, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said its unanimous decision was based on Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation among peoples.” The Committee took special note of the president’s restoration of “dialogue and negotiation” as the cornerstones of American foreign policy, lauding his leadership “on the basis of values and attitudes shared by the majority of the world’s population” as well as “renewed US commitment to international organizations.” We the undersigned believe that in the two months following this stirring announcement, President Obama has undermined the trust on which this award was made and by so doing sacrificed his eligibility for it. We cite two major violations of this trust: 1- the refusal to join the international Landmines Treaty five years after its ratification 2- the decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending an additional 30,000 US troops to that embattled nation. In light of President Obama’s failure to accept the Nobel Committee’s implicit invitation to be a peacemaker, we the undersigned ask this august body to revoke this award and, instead, give it to someone who has shown by actions not just rhetoric repeated commitment to the principles on which this award is based. In asking the Committee to take this unprecedented action, we believe that this body will be acknowledging its premature and mistaken judgment and also defending the integrity of this momentous honor. Last, we believe that such a revocation will send a message to all future recipients that their most inspired words must be followed by significant deeds. Note: The following petition to cancel awarding the Nobel Peace Price to Barack Obama will be sent to Dag Terje Anderson, the current president of the Norwegian Parliament, to forward to Thorbjorn Jagland, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which is part of the parliament.


    • You have the right to your opinion. You have the right to take action on that opinion. You are clearly wrong and have no sense of history.


    • See my reply to David Federman:

      Yes, but both comments flow from what happened after the President received the prize. I wrote this piece after he was nominated, before his speech. That said, I would just comment that not giving, or taking away, prizes from someone for what they did not do is quite meaningless. What he did not do is infinite. Also, his rhetoric is no more offensive than yours. He did not do what you wanted him to do. I suspect that will happen for all of us often in the next few years independent of our views on any number of issues.


  3. Dear ishtarmuz,

    How condescending of you to accuse Monique of lacking a sense of history. Any one who has studied the history of the Nobel Peace Prize since the 1930s would know a very distinct sense of the honor’s meaning and merit has emerged over the years–one that the choice of Barack Obama clearly violates, if not repudiates. Because each laureate is a custodian of the prize, one that is given for distinguished acts of peacemaking, it becomes necessary to castigate the committee when it errs, as it has with the president. Just read the acceptance speeches of people like Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King and you will see that the prize is about plowshares not swords. Even warmaker Henry Kissinger honored the plowshares priority in his acceptance speech. Until Barack Obama’s address, all recipients in recent decades accepted with a keen sense of continuity with the past. For Obama, a leader with no significant peacemaking achievements, to use the Oslo rostrum to break with tradition and enunciate a foreign policy based on “just war” is an act of unconscionable insensitivity to, if not disdain for, the spirit and significance of the award. To add insult to injury, his refusal to commit America to signing the landmines treaty a week before the acceptance ceremony is a slap in the face to the 1997 winner, landmines activist Jody Williams (who has publicly denounced the president for this action), and the deeds-of-peace selection criteria used for decades. The reason for our petition is this: Barack Obama turned the world’s most prestigious ceremony for honoring peacemaking and peacemakers into a Nuremberg rally. Never in the history of the Nobel Prize has this occasion been given over to such an unabashed rationalization for war. By putting American militarism above global cooperation, Obama demeaned the honor that was given him and the faith in his commitment to peace on which it was based. We think those are just grounds for the Nobel Prize Committee to have profound misgivings and to act on them. What’s more, we think we can persuade thousands of others to join our call for actionable second thoughts.


    • Yes, but both comments flow from what happened after the President received the prize. I wrote this piece after he was nominated, before his speech. That said, I would just comment that not giving, or taking away, prizes from someone for what they did not do is quite meaningless. What he did not do is infinite. Also, his rhetoric is no more offensive than yours. He did not do what you wanted him to do. I suspect that will happen for all of us often in the next few years independent of our views on any number of issues.


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