What Price for Obama's Nobel Prize?
What do the Norwegian Nobel arbiters expect to collect from President Barack Obama? They have just awarded him a peace prize which Obama himself suggests was extended on credit -- or so he implied in telling reporters Friday morning that he wasn't sure he'd done enough to deserve it.
But the Nobel Norwegians express not only their hope that he will play out their fantasies, but their confidence that he is "now the world's leading spokesman" for their preferred "international policy and attitudes."
Who are these folks issuing Obama a prize on credit to steer America along their preferred course? The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five Norwegians, whose members are appointed by the parliament of Norway. Ever heard of Thorbjorn Jagland? Active for decades in the Socialist International, a collectivist who navigated a long series of embarrassing moments in Norwegian politics to become current Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Jagland now heads the Norwegian Nobel Committee. His fellow members who have just issued this Nobel IOU to a sitting American president are -- are we ready for global policy guided by this crowd? -- Kaci Kullman Five, Sissel Marie Ronbeck, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn and Agot Valle.
What, more specifically, might they be expecting of Obama? For starters, Norway, along with neighboring Sweden and Denmark, has been banging the drum for America to hand over to the United Nations enormous control over and constraints upon the U.S. economy, in the name of (warming/cooling/take-your-pick) climate change. Thus did Norway's Nobel committee bestow its favors in 2007 on Al Gore and the UN's Self-Interested Panel of Politically Corrupted Science -- excuse me, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And this December the UN is convening a big climate conference in Copenhagen, with which the U.N. hopes to "seal" its growth-stunting UN-enriching climate "deal."
Whatever Obama's instincts to sign on wholesale, one might hope they would be balanced by the realities of the huge cost and burden this would impose on Americans. This is what hangs in the balance for the overlapping crew of U.N. and Scandinavian gurus who have carved out a profitable niche for themselves as doom-saying oracles of world weather. If Obama was in any way put off by the Olympic slap in Copenhagen last week, Norway has just handed him a feel-good consolation prize; a message that he can return to Scandinavia without losing face.
More broadly, Norway's Nobel grandees have presented themselves in recent years as cheerleaders for some of the UN's more grossly embarrassing performances. Recall the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the UN and its former secretary-general, Kofi Annan, in 2001 -- during the period in which, with Annan at the helm, Oil-for-Food mushroomed into the most massively corrupt endeavor in the history of humanitarian relief. And of course there was the Nobel in 2006 for the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei -- who, if he deserves any award, really ought to get one from Tehran for his convenient and apparently endless existential doubts over the Iranian bomb program.
For more than 60 years, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and for that matter the rest of Western Europe, have basked in relative peace. This is not thanks to the conversational charms of select members of the Norwegian parliament. America's system of individualism and free enterprise produced the wealth and -- yes -- the weapons that went into winning both World War II and the Cold War. Americans have fought and died in a series of wars to keep the totalitarian shadows at bay. Americans are at the forefront of those fighting and dying along those same front lines today, notably in Afghanistan -- where Norway is part of the coalition, but among those serving, 869 Americans have died, versus 4 Norwegians (even taking into account Norway's much smaller population, this means that, proportionally, more than three times as many Americans have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan than have Norwegians). And this is part of a broader conflict, with flashpoints ahead that years of dialogue, U.N. resolutions and Nobel prattle have all failed so far to defuse.
America, in the course of defending its own freedoms, has long extended to the likes of Norway, Denmark and Sweden a protective umbrella. Under that shelter, too many Europols have come to believe that peace is a function of nothing more than talk and hope and dreams and ...premature prizes.
Obama said on Friday morning that he will accept this award as "a call to action." Action on whose behalf? The five Norwegians who make up the Nobel peace prize committee chose to give him this award, for their own purposes. Obama, and America, owe them nothing. The real hope is that Obama will remember he took an oath (twice) not to serve as global spokesman for the Norwegian Nobel Committee, but "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Before his presidency is over, keeping faith with that oath may require him to do things would knock the stuffing out of the featherbed philosophy of this sanctimonious crowd of Scandinavian free-riders.