Analysis: He won, but for what?
By Jennifer Lovin
Associated PressOctober 9, 2009
For one of America's youngest presidents, in office less than nine months — and only for 12 days before the Nobel nomination deadline last February — it was an enormous honor.
The prize seems to be more for Obama's promise than for his performance. Work on the president's ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished. He has no standout moment of victory that would seem to warrant a verdict as sweeping as that issued by the Nobel committee.
And what about peace? Obama is running two wars in the Muslim world — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and can't get a climate change bill through his own Congress.
His scorecard for the year is largely an "incomplete," if he's being graded.
He banned torture and other extreme interrogation techniques for terrorists. But he also promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source of much distaste for the U.S. around the world, a difficult task that now seems headed to miss his own January 2010 deadline.
He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals.
He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But he's received little cooperation from the two sides.
He said he wants a nuclear-free world. But it's one thing to telegraph the desire, in a speech in Prague in April, and quite another to unite other nations and U.S. lawmakers behind the web of treaties and agreements needed to make that reality.
He has said that battling climate change is a priority. But the U.S. seems likely to head into crucial international negotiations set for Copenhagen in December with legislation still stalled in Congress.
And what about Obama's global prestige? It seemed to take a big hit last week when he jetted across the Atlantic to lobby for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics — and was rejected with a last-place finish.
Perhaps for the Nobel committee, merely altering the tone out of Washington toward the rest of the world is enough. Obama got much attention for his speech from Cairo reaching out a U.S. hand to the world's Muslims. His remarks at the U.N. General Assembly last month set down new markers for the way the U.S. works with the world.
But still ... ?
This award makes it clear that the Prize itself has become a meaningless token that is bestowed not for accomplishments but for empty promises. Real efforts for peace will suffer as a result!