Debate surrounds the selection of Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize that U.S. President Barack Obama recently received continues to provoke strong debate. Writers, ambassadors and institutions have opined on the controversial choice. What is certain is that, with this award, it is hoped that Obama makes a contribution to the strengthening of Peace in his country and in the world.
From the moment the surprise overtook the entire world when the Nobel committee announced that the President of the United States would be this year’s prize winner, intense debate began in various political, social and cultural circles. Some in favor, others opposed, others ambivalent, what is certain is that the international community had not expected this announcement.
According to the Norwegian daily ‘Verdens Gang’, three of the five members of the Nobel committee were opposed initially. The “vigorous debate” was acknowledged by the chair of the electing body, the former Norwegian Social Democratic Prime Minister and former President of the Parliament Thorbjens Jagland, who finally, with the support of his party colleague Sissel Rohhebek, managed to push through the candidacy of Barack Obama for having managed “in a short period of time to change the international political climate and moved it toward dialogue, cooperation and disarmament”.
Certainly, Obama represents hope amidst chaos, and his political plans and performance until now have demonstrated a change of attitude by the global power with respect to the Middle East’s international community, with whom his predecessor, George W. Bush, created and maintained poor relations, at the moment of his attacks on and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Of the 91 persons awarded the Nobel Peace prize over the history of the award, 20 were Americans, among them four presidents: Roosevelt, Wilson, Carter and Obama; Al Gore, Vice President and Secretaries of State: Elihu Root, Frank Kellogg, Cordell Hull, George Marshall and Henry Kissinger. One may be assured that, save Obama, who has yet to make history, none was a pacifist.
The opinions among the committee members show that former Prime Minister Jagland used the power of his leadership, in addition to the participation of his party auxiliary Sissel Marie Rønbeck, to exert his will over the majority. It remains to clarify with time whether it was naïveté or, perhaps, political genius, as some point out, in order to contain the war momentum, not of the president, but of the military power over which he presides, which led Jagland to promote Obama with such stubbornness, as his colleagues suggest. What is clear is that, on Friday, October 9, as Barack Obama was receiving the news from Oslo of an award for peace that has not been achieved, the independence of the Nobel Committee members and the internal democracy thereof remained in doubt. Therefore, the first criticism launched referenced politicization due to Jagland having imposed his will upon the Committee. Beyond all of the criticism, this reporter congratulates the Committee on its 2009 Nobel Peace Prize selection, hoping that the laureate will contribute to the strengthening of Peace in his country and in the world, which faces conflicts and situations in which the United States is involved, and that he can contribute to the re-establishment of the bonds of cooperation and solidarity among nations.
“The selection of Obama is a break, marking the start of a new trend”, opined Kristian Berg Harpviken, Director of the Norwegian International Peace Research Institute (PRIO).
“It seems to me that President Obama has had very good intentions, but this appears to be a bit hasty. Moreover, the real efforts of countless other people have not been taken into account”, noted Rogelio Polanco, the Ambassador of Cuba to Venezuela.
The Norwegian writer Jan Arild Snoen said: “Without Jagland, no doubt it wouldn’t have been Obama”.
“¿So soon? Too soon. He hasn’t made any contribution as of yet. He’s in his first term. He’s just begun to act”, noted the former President of Poland Lech Walesa, the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The Washington Post has alluded to the general bafflement by the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded “to a president who has not completed the first year of his presidency and has not made any major achievement in the international arena”.
(Translation provided by Iuslingua LLC)