Wow, that was fast! President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am sure many Americans (and others) will be thinking “It’s too soon. He hasn’t done anything yet!” Or even “Dude can’t even pass health care already, but he’s been elevated to international sainthood?”.
But this isn’t about domestic politics, or about what he’s done yet. President Obama has changed how the world feels about America. He’s lifted the planet’s mood. This guy is global Prozac.
There’s more to it than just the Bush presidency being a total downer for everyone in the world who cares about multi-lateralism or just wants to do business with the US. The tidal wave of bad faith Bush’s presidency created washed away any chance of progress in so many international initiatives.
Obama’s not a game changer per se, but he’s changed how people feel about playing the game, or whether they even want to.
Or, as the Nobel committee says;
“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play”.
Of course that’s not the view of everyone outside of America. I’m at an informal meeting of donors, government reps and NGOs to talk about independent media and economic development. It’s a pretty international crowd, and opinions are about evenly split on whether Obama’s peace prize is sublime or ridiculous.
A Norwegian colleague says he’s torn. On the one hand, it’s a rush, the kind of news that makes you gasp in disbelief and get the giggles. On the other, it reflects how the prize was captured by the Norwegian parliament in the 1940s and has since moved far away from its original vision. The ‘leader of the free world’ and its army would never have won the prize for fighting militarism, as Alfred Nobel stipulated in his will a hundred years ago.
My worry; does the award give Obama more impetus to get stuff done, or is it just a slightly embarrassing prize for him turning up and breathing?
Either way, at least on his next trip to Scandinavia Obama won’t come home empty-handed.