Citing hope, intellect, blackness
Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in New York last month.(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Well, that was easy. President Obama woke this morning to discover that he’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor bestowed only twice before on sitting U.S. presidents. Reaction to his win has been predictably mixed—with some observers saying that simply by altering the rhetoric and protocols of American diplomacy, Obama deserved it. Past recipient and outgoing International Atomic Energy Agency direct-general Mohammed ElBaradei was “delighted” at the news, saying that no one better deserved the Prize. Lech Walesa, the Polish Solidarity leader who won the Nobel in 1983 and was not pleased with Obama’s decision to scrap a proposed missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, was perplexed: “Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast—he hasn’t had the time to do anything yet.” A much circulated Associated Press news analysis this morning reads: “The prize seems to be more for Obama’s promise than for his performance. Work on the president’s ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished.” The only concluded item on the agenda, it seems, is convincing the world he’s the anti-Bush.
On the other hand, fellow laureate Elie Wiesel is pleased with the decision to honor someone who is just starting to make change in the world, pointing out that “the mystery of beginnings is part of Jewish mysticism.” He is also one of the few to acknowledge a milestone the Nobel committee left out: “He is the first black person to hold that high office.”
And one unstinting hat tip came from Israeli President Shimon Peres, himself a past winner and now acting as Israel’s best face forward in trying to repair weakened relations with the United States. Peres wrote Obama directly, saying, “Very few leaders if at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such a profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope, with intellectual determination, and a feeling that there is a lord in heaven and believers on earth.”
After that characterization, a settlement freeze and de-nuked Iran should be easy, no?
Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize [Washington Post]
World Reaction to a Nobel Surprise [NY Times]
Obama’s Fellow Laureate Wiesel: ‘I Confess Surprise’ [NPR]