Sunday, October 11, 2009

Peace, Brother

A lot of people are up in arms (so to speak) over the fact that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Here are a few reasons why this is really nothing to get worked up about.

1. The Award Is Ironic
Awarding the prize to Obama is not ironic, however, the fact that Alfred Nobel, the founder of the award, made the money to fund it (as well as the other Nobel Prizes) by inventing dynamite, one of the most popular explosives in history, is.

2. The Award Is Vague

The Nobel Prize for Peace is supposed to go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” during the preceding year. Ok, I don’t really know of anyone who is doing a ton of work for the reduction of standing armies or the promotion of peace congresses these days, so it really comes down to this “fraternity among nations,” which could mean anything. You could argue that Obama has done a tremendous amount for fraternity among nations just by not being George W. Bush.

3. The Award Is Arbitrary

Gandhi, the poster boy for non-violent conflict resolution, never won a Nobel Peace Prize. Jody Williams, for her work banning landmines, has. Banning landmines is great, but is it really work for fraternity among nations? It sounds more like work for shutting down Nobel’s dynamite competitors to me.

4. The Award Doesn’t Mean Anything

Winning a Nobel Prize is nice. You get a shiny medal and a chunk of cash. But it doesn’t confer any authority or require any recognition. You don’t even have to travel the country for a year as a representative of world peace, the way Obama might have had to do if he was awarded say, the Miss America crown.

5. Positive Reinforcement Is GoodWhen someone is given a prize for doing something, expectations rise. Given that Obama still has two wars to extricate us from and the work restoring our standing with the International community after the disastrous Bush years may not be quite finished, shouldn’t this guy be getting all the encouragement the world can give him?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on, man. I'm not sure what to think of the nobel prize, but on the radio today I heard someone complaining about how Obama hasn't accomplished anything yet, and someone else said something like "Can you imagine if Obama gets health care legislation passed in his FIRST year as president, even with all the other stuff he has had to deal with?" I guess it would be pretty incredible, don't you think? Sometimes I think the expectations on Obama are too high.