Peace PRize for Storytelling

            Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples" won the Nobel prize 2009.

This week taught me the fast track to get the prestigious prize: be a president and make promises. The last doesn't have to be fulfilled, by the way. I found it quite surprising due to my strong belief that a Nobel prize is given for the deeds, not the intentions. That's why let me recall what the newborn peacemaker claimed to do for the sake of peace in the world:
  • Published an order to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, but has not approved any plans to actually do so
  • Oversaw a decrease in US troops in Iraq, onlt to replace them with private mercenaries
  • Expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan (by increasing the number of air attacks in its border regions)
  • Increased the number of US troops in Afghanistan by tens of thousands, with many more on the way
  • Established a US military presence on Colombian military bases
  • Refused to lend even the most superficial support to the political opposition in Iran, even as the regime there publicly executed dissidents
  • Stood idly by as police and National Guard troops engaged in one of the most vicious crackdowns against free-speech in recent memory while attending the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, PA
and the list can be continued... But is it what the Nobel committee called the "new climate in international politics"? Obviously, "dialog and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts", but is it the real state of affairs? I was about to get disappointed with the silent Guardian, when i came across its journalist's dismaying article. He was shocked "to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize" and straightly suggested "the Nobel peace committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization ... which has some understanding of history", because a peace prize should be given "not on the basis of promises...., but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war".

I was really surprised with such an open resentment, and opened The Economist that highlighted this topic as well. However, the authors were more distant and held back from adverse criticism. They rose the question of  the prize's "maturity" that sounded disturbed, but not indignant. Counting the major achievements of the US President, the authors didn't forget about the controversial side. They give reasons for critics' complaints and it seems that the material is rather neutral. But let me point out one significant thing. The article starts with a question - "Is it premature to give Barack Obama the Nobel peace prize, less than a year into his presidency?". It is obvious that the writers would try to give the answer, but in a veiled way. That's why i made a point of the last sentence that not only contains the word "infuriated", but actually ends with the words "at least". Apparently, this is the answer.

The BBC news suspended judgement and shuffled off the burden on other people's opinion. At first they gave the whole citation of the Committee's decision, and then printed the arguments against it and the world reactions.

Expectedly, The Daily Mail was quite vivid and straightforward starting with the title. What strikes the reader's eye immediately is that Mr. Obama "had not even known he was among the record 205 nominations". But then the story grasps even more amazement - "The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House". Then the reader is taken to the detailed guided tour   over the previous similar prize winners. The authors cite politicians and conjecture what the President achieved so far. Be prepared that all the negative sides will be highlighted twice and enjoy your Saturday afternoon absorbing the details.

Finally i looked through the titles of my home newspapers. They were seething with sarcasm - "Committee on Nobel advances and curtseys", "Obama gets his prize in advance", "Award Without A Year", etc.

To sum it all up and make some conclusions, i'll just tell you a joke that appeared in Russia soon afterwards:

In 1990 President Gorbachev won the Nobel prize.
In 1991 the USSR collapsed.
In 2009 President Obama won the Nobel prize.
Hmm... Let's see what'll happen in a year!


Helena said...


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