Friday, October 9, 2009

Does President Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

I don't know what to make of it. Has President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for what amounts to talk? Not that I'm accusing him of being all hat and no cattle -- far from it. But we're only nine months into a promising presidency that simply hasn't had the time to follow through on its agenda.

On the other hand, there's no doubt that Obama's presence in the Oval Office and his rhetoric have done much in a short time to restore American world leadership and credibility. Whether acting as a president is supposed to act (as Richard Kim of The Nation points out here) is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize is another question.

According to the Washington Post,

Obama and his aides have described the tenets of his foreign policy as emphasizing "mutual interest and mutual respect" and the idea that global diplomacy functions on the principles of "rights and responsibilities" of sovereign nations.

He has delivered four major foreign policy addresses explaining these themes -- his nuclear nonproliferation speech in Prague; his outreach to the Muslim world in Cairo; his offer of U.S. support to the developing world (tempered with a reminder that nations are responsible for their futures) in Accra, Ghana; and his call for global cooperation at the U.N. General Assembly last month.

(More here.)

The left will carp about this and the right will be positively apoplectic (a sure sign that the award is well-deserved). What no one can deny is that in a few short months Obama has reversed eight years of Bush unilateralism, a dangerous course that indeed threatened world peace. Perhaps that combined with the international hopes for his presidency merits what in many ways appears to be a premature recognition. And I'd feel better about it if I knew that President Obama planned to reject requests by the military to increase American military presence in Afghanistan...

The Nation opposes military escalation in Afghanistan:
In the next few weeks, Barack Obama will make a decision that will define his presidency. Will he escalate the war in Afghanistan, sending 40,000 additional US soldiers to reinforce the 68,000 already there to engage in an open-ended, nation-building counterinsurgency mission? Or will he redefine US objectives and ask his advisers to craft an alternative strategy?

For now, however, the administration should be pushed hard to explain the purpose and logic of increasing US involvement. Until it does, any escalation has failed the very test Obama established: "absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be..."

NOLA Happenings:
Tons happening this weekend, with the main event down the road in Lafayette at the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles...If, incredibly, that doesn't run to your taste, check out the food at the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta and Bridge City Gumbo Festival (over 2000 gallons served!)...As cinephiles attend the New Orleans Film Festival, bovine-ophiles can meet their needs at the Louisiana Cattle Festival...Of course, there's no shortage of talent at the Voice of the Wetlands Festival...

I'll always be dreaming my dreams with you...

Nicholas Kristof writes that "if Congress fails to pass comprehensive health reform this year, its members should surrender health insurance in proportion with the American population that is uninsured..."

What's next? According to the great E. J. Dionne, it's jobs, jobs, jobs...

Happy 70th Birthday, Harvey Pekar...

Friday's Choice -- Bob Dylan singing "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" -- goes out to Editilla:


Roy said...

I'm confused about this from the Novel committee, too. If the award is being given to recognize the change of command, then maybe the voters of the US should have been given the award, and the prize money put in the coffers at Treasury. Not that it would be anything more than the tiniest drop in the deficit bucket, but hey, we'll take what we can get!

There may be a positive spin to this awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, though - maybe the Right will have a collective, massive apoplexy and die, letting the rest of us get going on the work that needs to be done without hindrance.

Great piece from E.J. Dionne (but then all his pieces are gems!). He's right, the unemployment situation is getting worse rather than better (speaking as one who's been unemployed for almost 2 years now and flat broke) and it really needs to be seriously addressed. The House passed HR 3548, which adds another 13-week emergency extension of unemployment benefits in those states with unemployment rates over 8.5%, on Sept. 22. On the 23rd my state's (RI) senior Senator, Jack Reed, introduced S 1699, which does the same thing. Unfortunately, it bogged down immediately. Senators from states whose unemployment rate is lower than 8.5% complain that they're being left out. The counter argument is (a) that there aren't enough funds to make it universal, and (b) all 50 states have set the mark for launching extended state benefits at 8.5%, so the standard has already been set, and the federal government should follow it as well. It's an argument I tend to agree with. I've already written both my Senators and offered to email my own testimony as to how this delay is having a seriously negative effect on my life to any Senators who are opposing the bill, in hopes that it might be part of an effort to speed passage of the bill. We'll see how that works out.

K. said...

President Obama appears to agree with you: "This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better."

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Aw that is just sweeter than a specked puppy, K, thank you very much!
It just proves once again that the Bad Asses were always Bad Asses.

I actually learned a lyric tonight so thanks youz there too! Hahahahah, I have performed this song I shit you not perhaps at least over 500 times in 25+ years and have always sang "All your Rainbow sailors~they are rowing home. Your empty-handed armies they are going home..."
This is like waking up in one of Borges' Libraries.

Thanks again