Obama Awarded Noble Prize for Peace Rhetoric

Last week, the winners of the five Nobel Prizes were announced. Most of the laureates earned the prize by introducing something extraordinary. Willard Boyle and George Smith, who were among the four winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics, invented an imaging semiconductor circuit that is the basis of digital photography. Herta Muller won the literature prize for her outstanding literary work “depict[ing] the landscape of the dispossessed.” Carol Greider, Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak won the Prize for Medicine. They discovered how “telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase,” a contribution that has increased our understanding of and our ability to cure cancer.

So who won the Nobel Peace Prize, a much-coveted honor previously recieved by figures such as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

None other than President Barack Obama.

I am only voicing the question that is on so many peoples’ minds when I ask: what has this man — so new to the world of politics — done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? The Nobel Prize’s Web site explains that Obama’s award is “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and relations between people.”

I’m sorry, what?

Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat jointly won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for overcoming the age-old conflict and differences between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to bring peace to their people. They signed agreements that were meant to bring peace to the Middle East. Bill Clinton, who played an invaluable role in the talks and arguably exerted the most effort on them, did not receive a fraction of the Peace Prize.

So what has Obama, a man with not even nine months in office time behind him, accomplished to deserve an award commemorating efforts for peace?

Was it all his talk about peace, hope and change? Was it his willingness to placate the genocidal berserker government of Iran? Was it for donating $900 million of the US budget to the Gaza Strip to help the Palestinians — money that will inevitably end up in the hands of the terrorist group Hamas?

Obama nabbing the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize seems to be more about promises than actual achievement. He has promised to end the Iraq war and cease the brutal interrogation of detainees. His administration has made efforts to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not a unique activity for a US president, and has also been talking to American foes like North Korea and Iran — none of which have yielded many results.

He has stated his desire for a nuclear-free world and promised to take charge in the fight against climate change. Great. When he actually goes ahead and makes good on any of those magnificent promises, then he deserves to become a Nobel laureate.

In a humble statement to CNN, Obama himself admitted to feeling like he did not deserve “to be in the company” of past winners.

This is not to say Obama is the first nonsense winner of the Peace Prize. Yasser Arafat, while he did allow for crucial peace agreements to be signed between the Israelis and Palestinians, was not at all a peaceful man. He was photographed on innumerable occasions toting rifles, pistols and rocket launchers. An infamous picture shows the former PLO leader shouldering an RPG with a grin.

In fact, many people blame Arafat for the current predicament of the Palestinian people. Arafat caused significant bloodshed and was still awarded the Nobel Prize.So, it makes some sense that Obama, a man who has done virtually nothing for peace outside of repeating it over and over, would win such an award.

This is absurd, especially when his achievements are placed alongside those of other world leaders like Kofi Anan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Elie Wiesel, all of whom and more have accomplished fantastic feats in order to bring peace to our world.

However, despite his lack of achievements, Obama is not to blame for his own ridiculous award. The Norwegian Nobel Committee deserves that honor. It needs a good slap or two to wake it up. If all it takes to win a Nobel Peace Prize is to constantly chant “peace” from a soapbox, then the committee owes a heck of a lot of Prizes to a heck of a lot of hippies.

AE Anteater is a fourth-year English major. He can be reached at elisa@uci.edu.