Sunday 11 October 2009

My Response to President Obama Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize

I've been reflecting in response to the relentless drivel coming from the hard right.

Why can't we take the pronouncements of the Nobel Committee at face value: "The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee - four of whom spoke to The Associated Press, said awarding Obama the peace prize could be seen as an early vote of confidence intended to build global support for the policies of his young administration. They lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation, and praised his pledges to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms, ease U.S. conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthen its role in combating climate change."

(For more on this read/watch...)

I resonate strongly with the comment an observant American friend with a good global perspective shared today by email: "Let's face it, the United States is still the dominant power in our world; I think it must be very hard for many people in the United States to understand how much the rest of the world appreciates a US President whose first reaction to an international problem is NOT to draw a gun -- in the image of the mythical cowboy; but rather to talk and negotiate."

That correlates with the general impression I get when conversing with just about everyone I've encountered here in AUS since this announcement broke -- it's evoked a mood of great celebration!

I also liked the way Michael Moore put it today in his newsletter:

Many, for the past couple days (yes, myself included), have grumbled, "What has he done to earn this prize?" How 'bout this:

The simple fact that he was elected was reason enough for him to be the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Because on that day the murderous actions of the Bush/Cheney years were totally and thoroughly rebuked. One man -- a man who opposed the War in Iraq from the beginning -- offered to end the insanity. The world has stood by in utter horror for the past eight years as they watched the descendants of Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson light the fuse of our own self-destruction. We flipped off the nations on this planet by abandoning Kyoto and then proceeded to melt eight more years worth of the polar ice caps. We invaded two nations that didn't attack us, failed to find the real terrorists and, in effect, ignited our own wave of terror. People all over the world wondered if we had gone mad.

And if all that wasn't enough, the outgoing Joker presided over the worst global financial collapse since the Great Depression.

So, yeah, at precisely 11:00pm ET on November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. And the 66 million people who voted for him won it, too. By the time he took the stage at midnight ET in the Grant Park Historic Hippie Battlefield in downtown Chicago, billions of people around the globe were already breathing a huge sigh of relief. It was as if, in that instant, one man did bring the promise of peace to the world -- and most were ready to go wherever he wanted to go to achieve that end. Never before had the election of one man made every other nation feel like they had won, too. When you've got billions of people ready, willing and able to join a cause like this, well, a prize in Oslo is the least that you deserve.

One other thought. The Peace Prize historically has been given to those who have worked to throw off the yoke of racial discrimination and segregation (Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu). I think the Nobel committee, in awarding Obama the prize, was also rewarding the fact that something profound had happened in a nation that was founded on racial genocide, built on racist slavery, and held back for a hundred-plus years by vestiges of hateful bigotry (which can still be found on display at teabagger rallies and daily talk radio). The fact that this one man could cause this seismic historical event to occur -- and to do so with such grace and humility, never succumbing to the bait, but still not backing down (yes, he asked to be sworn in as "Barack Hussein Obama"!) -- is more than reason enough he should be in Oslo to meet the King on December 10. Maybe he could take us along with him. 'Cause I also suspect the Nobel committee was tipping its hat to all of us -- we, the American people, had conquered some of our racism and did the truly unexpected. After seeing searing images of our black fellow citizens left to drown in New Orleans -- and poor whites seeing their own treated no better than the black man they had been raised to hate -- we had all seen enough. It was time for change. (end of quote)


So, in response, I wrote today to congratulate President Obama on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, but I also encouraged him in specific ways to continue his hard work, to be a staunch advocate for peace as his administration considers difficult choices, especially regarding:

-- the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,
-- how diplomacy can resolve tensions with Iran and North Korea through dialogue better than through military threats,
-- a distorted federal budget that devotes more money to weapons and war and less to families struggling to get by in this economic crisis, and
-- how to go beyond a limited arms control measure to create the nuclear-free future that Obama has already been strongly articulating.

I encourage all my friends to take a similar initiative -- to congratulate him, but to also share your own concerns about peace issues. If you would like to follow through on this opportunity, simply click on this link to a letter American Friends Service Committee has prepared online and which you can modify and personalize right here or, alternatively, utilize the international site of the campaign sponsored by Avvaz.



  1. I affirm those sentiments. In my lifetime, I have known JFK, and Clinton to be Presidents which time and history have validated much of what they changed and accomplished in their time. I whole heartedly believe that Obama will be one of the most legendary presidents since Abraham Lincoln.

  2. A great post Clair. i will send obama a postcard of congratulations and encouragement. kelli