Justifying the Prize

Hugo Chavez says that President Obama should try to earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he was prematurely awarded. That’s a sentiment that has been voiced by many, and that Obama seems to share. Perhaps it lies behind the administration’s unhelpful diplomacy in Honduras which Scott noted earlier this morning.
More troubling, perhaps, is that Obama’s perceived need to burnish his “peacemaker” credentials may be causing him to compromise America’s interests in nuclear negotiations with Russia. That’s what Russian diplomats are suggesting, anyway:

Moscow and Washington want to reach a deal on a key nuclear disarmament treaty before US President Barack Obama receives his Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, a Kremlin source was quoted as saying Friday.
The source, quoted in the Kommersant daily, said the Obama administration wanted to sign an agreement on replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) before the Nobel ceremony and that Moscow was willing to oblige.
“On December 10 the ceremony for awarding Nobel laureates will take place… Our partners want the document to be signed before the Nobel Peace Prize is given to Barack Obama,” the Kremlin source was quoted as saying. “We are not against this,” he added, according to Kommersant.
Russian and US negotiators have been discussing a new pact to replace START, a landmark 1991 treaty that led to deep cuts in the two countries’ nuclear arsenals, before it expires on December 5.
A deal on START would mark a major foreign policy success for Obama and would boost his stated vision of a world free of atomic weapons.

Whether it’s a success, of course, depends on what it says. One area of disagreement has been missile defense:

The newspaper reported that compromises had been reached on two key issues: the limit on the number of “carriers” that can deliver warheads and how the START replacement treaty will address missile defence.
Russia has insisted that the START replacement treaty must establish a link between missile defence systems and strategic arms.
“Compromise solutions have been found on these parameters of the treaty,” Kommersant quoted a source, identified as a participant in Wednesday’s talks with [National Security Adviser James] Jones, as saying.
“We still have an array of concerns where we have not yet agreed with the Americans. But there is movement.”

The merit of this sort of treaty lies in the details–details that have yet to be negotiated and that, if the Russian diplomatic source is correct, the Obama administration is anxious to wrap up before Obama goes to Oslo. Is the White House capable of cutting a bad deal–one that impairs our security by, for example, making needless concessions on missile defense–just so that Obama will look less foolish when he accepts the Peace Prize in Oslo? What do you think?

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