Step one: Get elected. Step two: ??? Step three: Win Nobel Prize.
The world was a little miffed when it was announced last week that President Barack Obama was going to be the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
There was a global awkward silence: “Obama? Really? What for?”
And that’s the thing. What did Obama actually do to earn such a prestigious award? He has been in office for a mere 10 months and the only thing he has accomplished is a steadily declining approval rating within the United States and signed the order to shut down Guantanamo Bay by next year.
Oh yeah, and he’s made a few speeches to the Eastern World about the need for cooperation and peace.
Members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which is comprised of five representatives from the Norwegian parliament, have said they chose Obama because they wanted to throw their support behind his plans. The committee and other world leaders think that the prize will aid the American president’s plans for world diplomacy and nuclear disarmament.
One committee member, Aagot Valle, said she hoped the selection would be “an inspiration”.
No can argue that it is inspiring. If 50 years ago you told someone there would be a president of African descent, no one would have believed you. And what did Obama do? He took the nation and world by storm through a campaign message of “hope” and his outreach to fellow Facebook and BlackBerry users everywhere.
The Obama saga reads like an epic story, except everyone’s seemed to skip a couple hundred pages to the end of the book.
One thing for sure is that this situation raises more questions than it answers.
In a press conference at the White House Obama said, “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.”
If Obama doesn’t think that he deserves the prize, then he should respectfully decline and say, “Thanks but no thanks. I’m going to earn this thing on my own terms.”
The candidates on the shortlist included Hu Jia, a civil rights activist heavily involved with Chinese environmental and HIV/AIDS groups.
Another more-deserving candidate was Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
How is it that Barack Obama, a man more involved with universalizing healthcare and stabilizing the economy in one of the wealthiest countries in the world beats out a man trying to fight for his peoples’ rights of liberty and freedom? It should be mentioned that Tsvangirai puts his life on the line as he faces off with antagonist and murderer Robert Mugabe on a daily basis.
If the U.S. president did something so humble as to step aside for one of these worthier candidates he would gain so much respect from American citizens and the international community.
Another thought to be considered: Is it that our politics have become tainted by the world’s fascination with celebrity? Is it possible that Obama has won the Nobel through a popularity contest?
However this isn’t the first time that the committee has made a questionable selection.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was given the medal in 1994 for agreeing to a United Nations resolution with Israel, despite the fact that for several decades prior he was responsible for the death of thousands of civilians through acts of terrorism.
You’d think that Mohandas Gandhi would have one in his portfolio, alas, despite being nominated several times throughout the 1930s and 40s, he never did.
Mr. Obama handled this surprising honour with grace and humility. There is no denying that this world leader has supreme potential to change the diplomatic landscape of the world over the next three years. However, this was premature and it is not his time to shine.