At risk of beating a dead horse, I want to return to the main news story of the day, Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, and examine it through the eyes of the group of five Norwegian politicians, at least three of whom are unequivocal left-wingers, who decided on the award. World reaction has generally been one of surprise: what can Obama possibly have done in the last nine months to deserve the prize? Obama himself acknowledged that the award must be grounded in some standard other than his actual achievements in office.
So let’s see how the Nobel selection committee explained its choice. Here is their statement in full, with my comments interpolated:
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.
But what is it about Obama’s first nine months (or first ten days, the period he had been in office when nominated for the award) that represents an “extraordinary effort to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”? Have we seen any greater cooperation between peoples this year than last year? I don’t think so. And Obama’s “peace” platitudes are anything but extraordinary. I suspect that what the committee means is something it can’t say: they are rewarding Obama for his apologies on behalf of America, his repeated mea culpas around the world. Have those apologies brought about “cooperation between peoples”? Of course not. But they are indeed “extraordinary,” and I suspect that, as much as anything, they account for the Nobel committee’s enthusiasm for Obama and his administration.
The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
I’m pretty sure this was not intended as a joke, but you have to wonder. A “world without nuclear weapons” recedes further into the distance with every Iranian and North Korean act of evasion, enrichment of uranium, and testing of medium and long-range missiles. What, exactly, has Obama done to prevent these rogue nations from obtaining or using nuclear weapons? Absolutely nothing. And yet, perversely, that’s exactly what the Nobel committee likes. If Obama had actually tried to “work for a world without nuclear weapons” by stopping Iran from getting them, he would have been out of contention for the award.
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics.
Really? How is that “new climate” manifested? By the Iranians’ renewed commitment to developing nuclear power that can be used to obliterate Israel? By Russia’s ongoing efforts to exert control over the territories of its former empire? By North Korea’s testing of missiles that can reach the United States? By Hugo Chavez’s crackdown on independent media and growing alliance with Russia and Iran? By increasing Taliban violence in Afghanistan? By the Poles being sold out, once again, to Russian power? Don’t the Nobel panelists notice that the “new climate” looks a lot like the “old climate,” only with less hope?
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.
How many countries are there in the world? Around 200? How is it that in nine months, a new American President can cause “multilateral diplomacy” to “regain a central position” in the world? Aren’t there 199 or so other countries who are perfectly free to engage in multilateral diplomacy, no matter what the U.S. President does? Apparently those 199 countries, including Norway, are consigned to irrelevance.
Those who wrote this citation were of course trying to contrast Obama with his predecessor, George W. Bush. But Bush was anything but hostile toward the role of the United Nations. On the contrary, the Iraq war was deferred for something like six months so that U.N. procedures could play themselves out. Nor was the Bush administration averse to “multilateral diplomacy,” which it consistently used, for better or worse, with respect to both Iran and North Korea, and used with considerable effect to create international coalitions to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama, actually, has yet to assemble a single international coalition to do anything at all.
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.
This short paragraph is contemptible. So far, the Obama administration has done nothing at all to “meet the great climatic challenges.” Those “challenges” are, moreover, a hoax. The world is always getting either warmer or colder, its climate never stands still. There is essentially zero evidence that human activity makes any significant difference in the climatic swings that have been going on for thousands of years.
The politicians who wrote this citation know nothing about climate science. What they do know is that the pretense that climatic disaster is at hand is a valuable tool in the hands of those who want to destroy free enterprise and turn more or less all power over to the state. They see Obama as an ally in this effort, which is a key reason why they wanted to support him by giving him the Nobel prize.
That’s cynical but easy to understand. Now, what about the claim that “democracy and human rights are to be strengthened”? This verges on the obscene: the much-reviled Bush administration did, in fact, strengthen democracy and human rights in both Iraq and Afghanistan. So far, the Obama administration has done nothing similar. In fact, Obama has been quite willing to sell out human rights in Honduras, Iran, Venezuela and elsewhere. “Democracy and human rights” to the Nobel committee is just a rhetorical flourish. The last thing they want is actual promotion of those values.
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.
Presumably one shouldn’t award the Peace Prize on the ground that Obama has “captured the world’s attention,” but that seems to be more or less what has happened. While there have been many bad winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in the past, Obama may be the first recipient of the award who is being rewarded mostly for celebrity. Maybe next year it can go to Lindsay Lohan.
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.
This is quite revealing. Historically, it has always been understood that a country’s leader speaks for and tries to advance the interests of his country and its citizens. The Nobel committee begins from a very different point. When the Nobel committee talks about the “world’s values and attitudes,” it is speaking for a very specific and narrow group: Europe’s most left-leaning politicians, not the “majority of the world’s population.” The world’s population is, to say the least, much more diverse.
In fact, I think that a majority of the world’s population shares the values and attitudes that were manifested by President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush–they want economic and political freedom for themselves and their families. This helps to explain why those Presidents were able to bring down the Iron Curtain and bring political and economic freedom to many millions of people around the world.
The situation we face today is quite a bit more ambiguous, in part because of unprincipled and ineffective leadership here in the U.S. Obama thinks that “those who are to lead the world” must do so not on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by most of the world’s people, but rather on the basis of “transnational elite” values, which hold that the world is to be run by self-selected educated elites, that traditional cultures and values are slated for extinction, that all power is to be concentrated in the hands of elites who operate through national governments and international organizations, and so on. We can debate whether this vision of international rule by transnational elites is a good one, but it is laughable to claim that Obama’s diplomacy is based on values and attitudes that are shared by “a 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.”
This is unintentionally self-revealing: the Norwegian Nobel Committee has been working at its left-wing task for 108 years, but just now, with President Obama’s election, has the committee found a hero–someone whose liberal foreign policies line up “precisely” with the committee’s own prejudices. How could the committee wait, when the very exemplar of its left-wing, trans-national foreign policy is at hand?
So that is why the Nobel Prize Committee embarrassed itself by awarding its Peace Prize to a President who, by his own admission, hasn’t done anything yet. The award was, at best, a prediction. We can all follow events for the next three years and determine whether, in fact, the Obama administration’s policies have made the world a more peaceful place. Should the Nobel Prize Committee get lucky, it will be a great thing for the world. But that scenario isn’t very likely.