On Friday, the European Union learned that with austerity riots, struggling currency, rising anti-Semitism, and growing neo-Nazi groups it’s apparently still possible to be a harbinger of peace.
The Nobel Peace Prize for the euro bloc was awarded for six decades of “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
Surely the well-deserved 2010 award to Liu Xiaobo might have reminded the Nobel Committee that there are men and women risking their lives every day around the globe as prime contenders for “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” — as deemed by the creator of dynamite and arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel.
But the head-scratching EU prize also serves as a reminder to check in on the 2009 recipient, especially as a foreign policy debate — the third of the presidential debates — looms Monday. Moderator Bob Schieffer will ask about America’s role in the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan, red lines with Israel and Iran, the changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism, and the rise of China.
A matter of months into his presidency, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.
“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
It’s an award for which Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, and Vaclav Havel — great men who left indelible impressions on humanity — were all passed over.
It’s also an award that has been bestowed upon Yasser Arafat and Le Duc Tho.
So three years later, with a presidential term under his belt and an award based on hope of what he might do or inspire, has Obama earned his Nobel?