Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Laureate: Whatever Happened to Awarding for Deeds Actually Done?

It is enormously premature for Obama to be getting this great tribute, which to a certain extent cheapens the prior recipients and the work all of them performed over so many years.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I am generally a supporter of Barack Obama. I voted for him and campaigned in print for his election. However, as I turned on CNN early this morning and saw the news that he'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I actually gasped in disbelief. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube videos were destined to be in overdrive, not to mention the texts on millions of BlackBerrys.

As the 2 a.m. PDT CNN commentator interviewed Norwegian experts and past Peace Laureates, just about all of them repeated the obvious: Obama was being honored for the hope of what he might accomplish as opposed to what he has actually achieved.

2009-10-09-NobelPeacePrize2.JPGThe Nobel Peace Committee has been accused in the past of trying to make a political statement, and perhaps, because they admire Obama and his groundbreaking presidency, in addition to his earlier anti-war statements and recent speech to the Muslim world, they are, by this action, hoping to jump start his ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why else give him the honor now? Whatever one might feel about Obama, he has not earned this singular award. Few American presidents have received it and of those who have it was bestowed after they'd been engaged in something special. Theodore Roosevelt had helped to negotiate peace in the Russo-Japanese War. Woodrow Wilson had tirelessly worked for the creation of the League of Nations -- a struggle that was blamed for causing the serious stroke he suffered, which left him disengaged in the last years of his presidency.

Jimmy Carter received the Peace Prize after he left office, but in the wake of huge achievements monitoring worldwide elections and in his efforts with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the poor.

Former Vice President Al Gore got the prize after years of working for the environment. And whether you appreciated Henry Kissinger's getting the award it was in response to his efforts to effect a peace in the Vietnam War.

So, at the moment, I believe it is enormously premature for Obama to be getting this great tribute, which to a certain extent cheapens the prior recipients and the work all of them performed over so many years.

It is traditional for Nobel honorees to be named a long time after their achievements in the sciences and literature. Indeed, the winners announced this week in other categories performed their amazing work and discoveries decades ago. Obama's designation is akin to giving an Oscar to a young director for films we hope that he or she will produce or for a first-time published author getting a Pulitzer for a book he is destined to write some day.

The time has not yet arrived and circumstances have not yet evolved where Barack Obama is anywhere near the point where he has earned this prize. I don't blame him for this capricious action; it was the Nobel Peace Committee which committed the offense, which no doubt has Alfred Nobel thumping his head against his casket.

I only hope that President Obama takes this honor to heart to the extent that his policies and statements and deeds will someday make him deserving of this singular trophy. However, that time has not yet arrived, and I fear there will be a backlash to this announcement that may well lessen the significance this award has generally meant for well over a century.

Michael Russnow's website is

Popular in the Community


What's Hot