Mike Klein Online

Nobel Peace Prize: Hits, Misses, Obama and Gandhi

Atlanta Mike Pix_Press_Club_189_-_Version_2The Nobel Peace Prize, like other awards shows, often produces strange history.  Adolf Hitler was nominated in 1939.  That is about as strange as it gets.  But there has been controversy about recipients and several who were never honored since the first Nobel Peace Prize way back in 1901.

The foremost example is probably Mahatma Gandhi – the Indian national leader.  Gandhi was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948, the fifth nomination coming just days before his murder.  Why Gandhi never won remains baffling today and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has done nothing to correct that oversight in more than sixty years since his death.

Winston Churchill won a Nobel Prize for literature, but never the Nobel Peace Prize for leading his island nation England against Hitler’s Nazis.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt never won, not even posthumously.  Ronald Reagan more than any other Western leader created the political climate that brought down Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.  Yet, Reagan never won a Peace Prize.

Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize, his reward for a lifetime of terrorism.  Pinned against the wall, Arafat capitulated to peace talks that never produced peace, but he did share the Nobel Prize with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.  Today, there is no Israeli – Palestinian peace.

Now comes Barack Obama, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, much to the wonderment of a confused world that uttered, “Obama did what?”   There was much analysis but words from one previous recipient seem truest.  Poland’s Lech Walesa said simply, “So soon.  Too early.  He has no contribution so far.  He is still at an early stage.  He is only beginning to act.”

There is much fuss about the Nobel Peace Prize.   It is the golden horse in the Nobel Prize stable. Desmond Tutu, Elie Weisel, Nelson Mandela and President Jimmy Carter were honored for larger-than-lifetime achievements.  Go back further into earlier decades and you find the work of Mother Teresa, Andrei Sakharov, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Schweitzer, diplomat Cordell Hull and George C. Marshall.

We will never know who submitted Obama for consideration since the Nobel committee does not disclose who submits nominations.  More than 200 persons and organizations were considered and we know the deadline was twelve days after Obama became president.  One former U.S. president might say about that, “It is what it is, depending on what the meaning of the word is, is.”

Obama declared he was “surprised and deeply humbled” at his selection, adding, “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.”  There is a link to his complete text below.

Obama might have declined the award until his body of work is more deserving.  Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho declined the 1973 prize when he was named co-recipient with Henry Kissinger.  Instead, Obama will accept, on Thursday, December 10 in an Oslo, Norway ceremony that will become the ultimate pomp and circumstance, a virtual second inauguration of Barack Obama.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for dreaming big and talking the talk.  Obama won because he is not George W. Bush.  Obama won because some folks feel good when he talks.  Obama won because his media presence is second to none and in a viral world, media presence is almost everything.  Walking the walk remains ahead for the young President who will experience success and failure because that is the way of governing, politics and world events.

Obama’s selection brings to the table a fairly simple question:  What were the priorities of the five largely unknown Norwegians who selected Obama?  You likely have never heard of them.  There is a link below to the Nobel site; take a look at their names.  How many do you know?  Any at all?

Regardless, it seems fairly obvious now that the Nobel Peace Prize is used to score political points.

Carter’s post-presidency, sometimes slowed by his controversial remarks, has nonetheless been extraordinary, especially his health care initiatives.  But it was painfully clear the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize committee intended to rebuke Bush just as much as reward Carter. That was disrespectful to Carter who established the successful modern post presidency.

Two years ago the Nobel Peace Prize committee played “American Idol” with its selection of former Vice President Al Gore, named for environmental work, a quest that Gore undertook with great vigor and significant profit after failing to achieve the presidency.  Gore’s prize, like the Obama prize, was made largely because the committee liked what it heard from Gore, substance aside.

Obama’s selection most underscores, “We like you. You’re not George Bush.”

The far better choice would have been Mahatma Gandhi, posthumously.

That would be doing the right thing.  That would be honoring a truly great man after his time.

Let others be honored when their time comes.

Posted October 12, 2009

2009 Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee


Obama Statement on Nobel Peace Prize


October 12, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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