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Oct 13, 2009 1:16 am


Reactions to President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize



THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

THE HEADLINES....

  • Gasps as Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize: The announcement drew gasps of surprise and cries of too much, too soon. Yet President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday because the judges found his promise of disarmament and diplomacy too good to ignore. The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee — four of whom spoke to The Associated Press, said awarding Obama the peace prize could be seen as an early vote of confidence intended to build global support for the policies of his young administration... - AP, 10-10-09
  • After Nobel, Obama pressed to deliver on nuclear pledge: With a surprise Nobel Peace Prize in hand, President Barack Obama came under pressure Friday to make strides in his quest to rid the world of nuclear weapons, a goal experts said would be slow in coming."It's a long-term goal and a long voyage over a pretty big ocean of nuclear disarmament," former United Nations nuclear weapons inspector David Albright told AFP. Obama is"trying to turn a big ship so it can become an important part of US policy," he added.... Albright said an important"test" of that effort would be ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. But Obama may lack the necessary votes in the US Senate... - AFP, 10-09-09
  • News Analysis For Presidency in Search of Success, Nobel Adds a Twist: President Obama is given to big events at big moments, replete with stirring speeches, lofty backdrops and stadium-size crowds.
    But when Mr. Obama walked into the Rose Garden on Friday morning, having just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — an honor that would normally be a moment of high celebration, if not the culmination of a life’s work — he was humble and self-deprecatory, popping a hole in the balloon of his own accomplishment. He talked about being congratulated by his daughter Malia, who proceeded to remind him that it was the family dog’s birthday, and he suggested that he was undeserving of the award.
    Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," he said.... - NYT, 10-10-09
  • From 205 Names, Panel Chose the Most Visible: Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced on Friday in Oslo that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize 2009 will be awarded to President Barack Obama.
    The five-member Norwegian Nobel committee spent seven months winnowing the dossiers on dissident monks, human rights advocates, field surgeons and other nominees — 205 names in all, most of them obscure — before deciding to give the Nobel Peace Prize to perhaps the most famous man on the planet, Barack Obama.
    While in recent decades the selection process has produced many winners better known for their suffering or their environmental zeal than for peacemaking, the panel’s new chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said that members this year took a more practical approach in their unanimous vote for President Obama.
    "It's important for the committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic," Mr. Jagland said in an interview after the prize was announced,"but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik. It is always a mix of idealism and realpolitik that can change the world." NYT, 10-10-09
  • President Obama Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Mixed Reviews: President Barack Obama was named this year's Nobel Peace Prize honoree, becoming the third sitting president to win. Ray Suarez reports.... - PBS, 10-09-09
  • Obama Nobel Peace Prize: Obama wins, and partisan fighting continues Obama's Nobel stirs right, left: President Barack Obama's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize brought nothing of the sort at home, as political combatants were quick to assume their usual battlements: Democrats largely hailed the decision while Republicans and their allies ridiculed Obama and the Norwegian committee that awarded the prize.
    Within minutes of the announcement, a scorching debate broke out on TV airwaves, talk radio, the blogosphere and just about anywhere people of opposite political persuasions meet.... - Chicago Tribune, 10-11-09
  • Surprise Nobel for Obama Stirs Praise and Doubts: The choice of Barack Obama on Friday as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, less than nine months into his eventful presidency, was an unexpected honor that elicited praise and puzzlement around the globe. Normally the prize has been presented, even controversially, for accomplishment. This prize, to a 48-year-old freshman president, for"extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership.... - NYT, 10-9-09
  • Obama's Nobel prize met with cheers, criticism: THE CHOICE of U.S. President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize was cheered Friday by a global chorus from European leaders to minibus passengers in Kenya — but it also elicited criticism over the decision to break with tradition and recognize hopeful promise over concrete achievement. Obama is seen as having changed the direction of U.S. foreign policy, reversing many of his predecessor's unilateral policies and emphasizing the need for diplomacy, co-operation and mutual respect.
    Last year's prize winner, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, said the Nobel committee wants to encourage Obama to push harder for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."Of course, this puts pressure on Obama," he said."The world expects that he will also achieve something."... - AP London, 10-9-09
  • President Obama Joins Nobel Peace Laureates Talking Points Memo, 10-9-09
  • Letters: Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Laureate: Regarding the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama on Friday (The New York Times on the Web, Oct. 9)... - NYT, 10-10-09
  • Obama's Nobel: The Last Thing He Needs: The last thing Barack Obama needed at this moment in his presidency and our politics is a prize for a promise. Inspirational words have brought him a long way — including to the night in Grant Park less than a year ago when he asked that we"join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."
    By now there are surely more callouses on his lips than his hands. He, like every new President, has reckoned with both the power and the danger of words, dangers that are especially great for one who wields them as skillfully as he. A promise beautifully made raises hopes especially high: we will revive the economy while we rein in our spending; we will make health care simpler, safer, cheaper, fairer. We will rid the earth of its most lethal weapons. We will turn green and clean. We will all just get along.... - Time, 10-9-09
  • Kenyan grandmother is happy for Obama: President Barack Obama's Kenyan step-grandmother on Saturday advised this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner to be of good character and continue to work for peace. Sitting on a plastic chair outside her compound in the quite village of Kogelo, Sarah Obama told The Associate Press she believes her step-grandson's surprise win is a gift from God....
    The announcement was met with joy in Kenya, which has a special regard for Obama, the son of a Kenyan economist and an American anthropologist.
    Radio shows interrupted their programming Friday, and traders in the market huddled around hand-held radios and touts yelled the news to each other from the windows of local minibuses known as matatus. Many are already decorated with Obama's picture."I am happy for him," the elderly Obama told the AP outside her compound in the village of tree-lined dirt roads and maize crops where Obama's father grew up.... - AP, 10-9-09

REACTIONS: QUOTES

  • President Barack Obama: Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations."
  • President Barack Obama: Building a World that"Gives Life to the Promise of Our Founding Documents" Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said,"Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added,"Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.
    I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a 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.
    But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.... WH, 10-9-09
  • The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
    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."
    Oslo, October 9, 2009 Nobel Prize.org
  • "What has President Obama actually accomplished? It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who made real achievements working toward peace and human rights." Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee
  • "Whether it's celebrating the nation's loss of the Olympics, or attacking the recognition of American leadership today, Republicans time and again are proving that they're putting politics ahead of patriotism." Hari Sevugan, a Democratic Party spokesman
  • CBS Wonders: Will Nobel Prize Become Obama's 'Poison Chalice'?: Maggie Rodriguez and Bob Schieffer, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer wondered about negative political fallout from President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win:"one European commentator who said 'will this become a poison chalice?' In other words, is this going to hurt the President rather than help him?...is this going to widen the part of partisan divide rather than bring people together?"
    Schieffer spoke with Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez, who asked:"Clearly a surprise to everyone, including the White House, for the President to be awarded this less than nine months into his term. And already some people are questioning whether he deserves it." Schieffer expressed that skepticism:"My first reaction was, 'what?!....It's almost as if they’re saying 'we're giving you the Nobel Peace Prize for winning the election.'...I can't recall anybody who won this prize for his aspirations. People usually get it for results."
    During 11AM CBS breaking news coverage of the President’s acceptance speech, anchor Jeff Glor got more Scheiffer reaction:"Is this more a commentary on the current administration and the current president or the previous administration, Bob?" Schieffer replied:"It's almost as if the committee today was giving Barack Obama a prize for not being George Bush.".... - Newsbusters.org, 10-9-09
  • Op-Ed Columnist: The Peace (Keepers) Prize: The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way.
    It is not the president's fault, though, that the Europeans are so relieved at his style of leadership, in contrast to that of his predecessor, that they want to do all they can to validate and encourage it. I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but"as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations."
    All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give.... - NYT, 10-11-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS' COMMENTS

  • Fred Greenstein, author and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University: "The jury is still out as to what his presidency is going to add up to. It's more of an embarrassment to the Nobel process." Greenstein said Obama is unlikely to gain any political advantage from the award, and it is unlikely to lead to any major policy changes. FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
  • Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University"They're not comparable," Lichtman said."[Roosevelt and Wilson] were six or seven years into two-term presidencies, and Obama has not completed a single year of his presidency, so it makes very little sense." Obama possesses a great deal of"promise," but the jury is still out, Lichtman said."It remains to be seen what his foreign policy legacy will be," he said."It is premature. This was to encourage rather than to recognize an accomplished fact." The award might even become a"political headache" for Obama, Lichtman said."On the one hand, his liberal base will be pushing him to live up to this," he said."And his Republican critics will say a bunch of Scandinavians socialists have given this award to another socialist. You'll hear quite a bit of criticism from the right." FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
  • Stephen Wayne, professor of American government at Georgetown University "Praised Obama's"good instincts" and strong belief in diplomacy, but said he failed to see accomplishments that merited the prize."It does seem to me, at this point, that's its premature," Wayne said."When I first saw it, I thought it was a joke. Obama may have been the first to get it for his rhetoric and his orientation." Wayne said he was"startled" to learn Obama had been nominated for the award less than two weeks into his presidency."What had he done by February? He had been the first African-American elected president and provided sawing rhetoric," Wayne said."In one sense, Obama has always been more popular in Europe than in the United States. That popularity is based in part on the contrast he provides to former President George W. Bush, who was not popular in Europe. I am very favorable toward President Obama, but this prize is a surprise to me." FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
  • Gil Troy: Obama's prize: Noble hopes in an ignoble world: As liberals rejoice in Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and conservatives grumble, let's be honest: It is too early too tell. Awarding this prize either may be prescient or premature. Regardless, the award reflects the noble aspirations of the award committee and the prize winner.
    The committee beautifully described Mr. Obama's greatest accomplishment thus far."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," the citation says. The fact that despite its racist past, despite the stains of slavery and Jim Crow, the United States sent a black man to the White House was a modern miracle. That this President was only 47 when elected, and had, by his own description, a"funny name," is even more amazing especially following 9/11....

    The contrast between noble societies that invest in science and ignoble societies addicted to terror, between noble political cultures that produce hope-generators like Barack Obama and ignoble political cultures that produce mass killers, remains stunning – and daunting.
    Good people throughout the world should unite in hoping that the aspirations embedded in this award to a rookie President quickly transform into impressive achievements. Thus far, Mr. Obama has dazzled the world with his poetry. Let us hope that when we look back on this moment, his Nobel prize will be a milestone in his ability to turn his transcendent poetry into workable, governable prose, the hopes into feats, and, nations' swords into plowshares. - Toronto Globe and Mail, 10-10-09
  • Peter J. Kastor, Ph.D., an associate professor of history and of American culture studies in Arts & Sciences Historian finds 'profound' difference between President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and those awarded to Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt:"At the time Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, both of them were trying to assert a leadership role for the United States on the world stage. They were trying to make the United States validate not only the country's global power, but the country's global interventionist pretensions.
    "Although Roosevelt and Wilson received the Peace Prize for their roles in ending wars (the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, respectively), they could use the prize as part of their larger argument that the United States — and especially American presidents — had a right to shape the world order.
    "Both presidents championed intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries," says Kastor, whose most recent book,"America's Struggle with Empire: A Documentary History," chronicles how the United States has governed foreign territory and foreign peoples.
    "President Obama is trying to assert the United States into a different role," continues Kastor, who teaches a course titled"Americans and Their Presidents," which examines the intersection of politics and culture as it revolves around the presidency.
    "More importantly, he's operating in a profoundly different international context. The United States is no longer a nation asserting its role on the world stage, but rather it's a dominant world power now engaged in defending and rethinking its actions in the midst of a global debate about the appropriate role of world powers.
    "Like Roosevelt and Wilson, Obama has also stated that the United States can and should be a force for good in world affairs. Unlike Roosevelt and Wilson, however, he has publicly questioned the right of the United States to inject itself into the domestic affairs of foreign countries, even as he is forced to take charge of governing two foreign countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.
    "He's trying to say that the U.S. will take the moral higher ground. In some ways, his Peace Prize selection is closer to Jimmy Carter's in that President Carter was brokering for world diplomacy where no one country can dictate to another.
    "Obama is rethinking both globalization and intervention. No one denies that intervention and interceding in other countries is being very hotly debated throughout America. It appears that it is a hot topic among members of the Nobel Prize Committee as well." WUSTL, 10-9-09


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