Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
by Steve Fair
Last week, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Established in 1901 by the inventor of dynamite, a Swede named Alfred Nobel, the prize comes with a 1.4 million dollar cash prize- which is close to what Obama will make in salary as President for his entire four year term. The President makes $400,000 annually. It’s unclear what the President plans to do with the prize money.

Obama is the twenty first American to be awarded the prize. Other Presidents that have received the award were Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. Other notable Americans to be awarded the prize include former Vice President Al Gore; civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Obama’s selection as this year’s recipient came as a shock, evidently even to the President. Obama said, “I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear, I do not view it as recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize, men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace. “
Congressman Tom Cole- R, Oklahoma, said that Obama winning the Nobel was like awarding a player the MVP award without playing the game. Fellow blogger Nancy Millers said, “Informed sources tell me that on hearing the good news about her husband, Michelle Obama exclaimed: “Until now, I was never proud of the Nobel Peace Prize.” With the Heisman race so close this year, don’t be surprised if the Downtown NY club awards the stiff arm trophy to the prez. The jokes are piling up about the award, but just how does one win the Nobel?

The selection process starts with the Norwegian Nobel Committee inviting “qualified” people to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of certain elitist, government intellectual types who can nominate someone for the prize. Past recipients can nominate, so perhaps Al Gore or Jimmy Carter submitted Obama’s name, but thus far neither have claimed responsibility, which you would expect.

This year 205 people were nominated for the Nobel. When you consider the deadline for this year’s nominations (February 1st) was just twelve days after President Obama was sworn into office, you have to wonder who submitted his name, but the nomination and selection process is so secretive that the files are not opened for fifty years, so we’ll have to wait for that information.
The five member committee then meets and narrows down the nominations to finalists using Alfred Nobel’s criterion as their guide. In his will, Nobel said the peace prize was to be awarded to "the person who 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 committee attempts to reach a unanimous decision but that is not always possible. The Chairman of the Committee then awards the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway on December 10(the anniversary of Nobel's death) at the Oslo City Hall. A huge concert follows the next day.
So how did Barrack Hussein Obama II go from Illinois State Senator to Nobel Peace Prize winner in five years? It seems like a huge leap and Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said as much in an interview with the AP. "Some people say, and I understand it, isn't it premature? Too early?" "Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now. It is now that we have the opportunity to respond -- all of us." Jagland said.

The bottom line is the Nobel committee was sending a message to the world that they love this liberal American President and his pacifist foreign policies, but they acted prematurely and inappropriately. To award someone for good intentions is not following Nobel’s criterion for the prize outlined in his will. In 1901, Henry Dunant, a Swiss was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 at the age of 73. The Geneva-based International Red Cross was founded by the devout Calvinist, Dunant, who also helped establish the Geneva Convention, was a humanitarian whose life work was substantive. He was not a classic pacifist who advocated world peace, but recognized the nature of man would always produce conflict. Dunant sought a way to be “humane” even in times of war. We still use the principles set forth by Dunant. Obama’s award was pretentious and exaggerated and takes away from the prestige of the once noble Nobel.

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