The gasps of disbelief in Washington D.C. media and political circles over the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama have been, for this writer, foolish, ignorant and even quite stupid in their desperate attempts to begrudge the President any sense of entitlement to the prize or thinly justify the Nobel Committee's decision by posing the supposition that, though Obama hadn't done enough to deserve such recognition, it is what he is hopefully expected to achieve over time that produced the premature honor.
As a chronicler of the Obama Administration, and having produced 17 day-to-day histories exclusively for OpedEdNews, archived here, I have a very good knowledge of much of what the President has accomplished and the steps he has taken to accomplish even more. I've reviewed all the Obama Administration Chronicles and extracted from them everything that, in my opinion, justifies the decision of the Nobel Committee to award him the Nobel Peace Prize for patiently laying down the foundation for world peace.
Moving to restore obedience toward Geneva Convention
January 23rd: President Obama signed an Executive Order To Close Guantanamo Dentention Facilities within one year. Obama, also, ordered the CIA to close its network of secret prisons on foreign soil. President Obama, also, ordered all U.S. personnel to go by the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners, though also ordering a task force to evaluation of the Army Field Manual for the effectiveness of those AFM techniques.
Reaching out to the Muslim world
January 26th: President Obama gave his first interview as President to Al-Arabiya TV.
Making calculated steps toward a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine
March 2nd/Monday: Secretary pf State Hillary Clinton, in Egypt, pledged up to $900 million to help Gaza rebuild. She declared that the time for peace is now.
Restoring diplomatic inclusion of Arab nations for peace in the Middle East
March 3rd/Tuesday: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced from Jerusalem the United States will reopen talks with Syria. Two envoys will be sent to Damascus in a push for peace in the Middle East. She met with Israeli Prime Minister Designate Benjamin Netanyahu. Clinton reiterated the two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem.
Making the United States a serious partner in global recognition of the dignity of women
Making the United States a serious partner to global efforts to end gender discrimination
Day57/March 18th/Wednesday: The Obama Administration endorsed a United Nations Declaration calling for a worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.
Embracing diplomacy with Iran
Day59/March 20th/Friday: The President posted a video on the White House website in which he addressed the Iranian people and their government, offering:
"So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." Transcript
Aborting the restoration of the Cold War between the United States and Russia
Day71/April1st/Wednesday: The United States and Russia agreed to reopen talks about reducing their nuclear arsenals. Their last talks were in 1997. Obama and Medvedev issued a joint statement: ""the era when our countries viewed each other as enemies is long over."
Beginning the process of ending decades of rancor between the United States and Cuba
Day83/April 13th/Monday: The President directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Commerce to carry out the actions necessary to lift all the restrictions on the ability of individuals to visit and send money to family members in Cuba. Clothing, seeds and fishing gear are, also, allowed to be sent. Cell phone and television services will be permitted between the United States and Cuba, also.
Standing up for the right of a free press throughout the world
Day101/May 1st/Friday: The President released a statement honoring World Press Freedom Day:
"World Press Freedom Day is annually observed on May 3 to remind us all of the vital importance of this core freedom. It is a day in which we celebrate the indispensable role played by journalists in exposing abuses of power, while we sound the alarm about the growing number of journalists silenced by death or jail as they attempt to bring daily news to the public." Transcript
Day113/May 13th/Wednesday: The President spoke about the plight in Sri Lanka from the White House lawn before leaving to give the commencement address at Arizona State University. The President urged Sri Lanka to halt the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, who are trapped between warring government troops and what remains of the country's Tamil Tiger rebels, and to let humanitarian aid in. Transcript Video
Pursuing necessary steps toward a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine
Day118/May18th/Monday: The President met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu in the White House. "I've said before and I will repeat again that I believe it is in the interests of not only the Palestinians but also of the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution where the Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security" the President said as he and Natanyahu answered questions from reporters. Transcript & Videos
Understanding Pakistan needs more than military assistance
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. will provide $10 million in humanitarian aid to Pakistan: "Today I am announcing that the people of the United States are responding to a request for assistance from the government of Pakistan with more than $100 million in humanitarian support. Now, this money comes on top of almost $60 million that the United States has provided since last August to help Pakistanis who have been affected by the conflicts, and in addition to the other funding for Pakistan that we are already seeking form the Congress," Clinton said. "Providing this assistance is not only the right thing to do, but we believe it is essential to global security and the security of the United States, and we are prepared to do more as the situation demands." Transcript & Video
Acknowleging only global partnerships can arrest global crime
Day129/May29th/Friday: US Attorney General Eric Holder announced in Rome, at a Group of Eight ministerial meeting the creation of a center to target international organized crime. The International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center will gather resources and information from nine US law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to combat international criminal organizations. Source
The likely most important reason Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Day135/June4th/Thursday: The President gave a speech titled "A New Beginning" at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. Among his remarks:
"I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect"."
"America is not--and never will be--at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security, because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people."
"The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism--it is an important part of promoting peace."
"Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world."
"America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer."
"Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed--more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful."
"Let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
"Violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered."
"To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."
"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."
"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs."
"No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other".But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere."
"There are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party."
"It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit, for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism."
"I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity--men and women--to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice."
"All of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I'm emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement."
"If we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country--you more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world."
"The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth."
Beginning to end illegal occupations
Day158/June29th/Monday: United States forces in Iraq withdrew from Iraq's major cities to bases outside of the cities where the majority of the 130,000 troops will remain. Iraq's security was transferred to the Iraqi military.
Day159/June30th/Tuesday: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the President asked Vice-President Joe Biden to shoulder a new responsibility: oversee the United States departure from Iraq and the administration's efforts to promote internal political reconciliation in Iraq. Biden will work closely with General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq and US ambassador to Baghdad Christopher R. Hill while US forces prepare to leave by the end of 2011.
Reviving SALT talks and achieving agreements with Russia on defense issues and the reduction of nuclear weapons
FACT SHEET The Joint Understanding for the START Follow on Treaty This agreement would trim U.S/Russian nuclear warheads by a third. Each country would still retain over 1500-1675 nuclear warheads.
United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and Chief of Defense for the Russian Federation General Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov signed a new strategic framework for military-to-military engagement between the United States and the Russian Federation. This agreement will enable the resumption of bilateral activities, which had been suspended since August of 2008. Transcript
In an exchange of diplomatic notes, the United States and the Russian Federation reached a common understanding on a framework for the U.S. -- Russia Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIAs).
Cooperation in global solutions involving nuclear weapons, terrorism and financial markets
Statements and declarations from G8 meetings in L'Aquila, Italy:
Efforts to encourage and support improvements in the economies and development of the countries within the continent of Africa
Day169/July10th/Friday: the President attended a working breakfast and a meeting of the leaders of the G-8, participating African countries (Angola, Algeria, Nigeria, and Senegal), and six international organizations (United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Energy Agency, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Day170/July11th/Saturday: The President addressed the Ghanaian Parliament at the Accra International Conference Center in Accra, Ghana, laying out his vision for human rights and democracy in Africa's future, and he described what America's role in promoting better governance in Africa will be. The speech was entitled, "A New Moment of Promise." Transcript Video
Securing agreements on nuclear arms inspections and limitations with India
Day179/July20th/Monday: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in India. Two pacts were signed that held deep strategic impact on the region and the whole Asia as well:
(1) the End-User Verification Agreement, which gives rights to United States experts to inspect hi-tech military hardware sold to India
Offering aid to African nations recovering from civil wars and other conflicts
Day194/Aug4th/Tuesday: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Kenya for the first part of a seven-nation tour of Africa. Clinton will also visit South Africa, Angola, Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde, meeting with top African officials and offering continuing support to nations recovering from conflict. Source
Respecting the Muslim world
Day222/Sep1st/Tuesday: The President hosted a dinner celebrating Ramadan and contributions of American Muslims in the State Dining Room of the White House. Among the President's remarks: "So tonight, we celebrate a great religion, and its commitment to justice and progress. We honor the contributions of America's Muslims, and the positive example that so many of them set through their own lives. And we rededicate ourselves to the work of building a better and more hopeful world." Transcript Video
Standing firm for the restoration of democracy in Honduras
Day224/Sep3rd/Thursday: United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met the exiled President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. U.S. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly announced cut all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras over the ouster of Zelaya, making permanent a temporary suspension of U.S. aid imposed after Zelaya was deposed in June. Source
Continuing the process of ending decades of rancor between the United States and Cuba
The United States Treasury Department eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba. Travelers may:
(1) visit close relatives (including aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba, without limit on the duration or frequency of the visits.
(2) There is also no limit on the amount of remittances Cuban-Americans can send to those close relatives unlimited funds
(3) restrictions remain on sending money to "prohibited" officials in the Cuban government and members of the Communist Party
(4) US-based travelers are limited to spending 179 dollars a day when visiting relatives in Cuba
(5) a general license can be abtained that authorizes travel-related transactions incident to agricultural and medical sales
(6) allows US telecommunications network providers to link to Cuba with fiber-optic cables and satellite technology
(7) permits US wireless telephone providers to enter roaming service agreements with Cuban firms
(8) allows US satellite broadcasts to the island Source
United States banks can set up exchanges with Cuban banks Source: MSNBC, September 4, 2009
Brought reasonableness to the defense of Europe and strengthening repairing relations between the United States and Russia. Did this put Obama over the top for the Nobel Committee?
Day238/Sep17th/Thursday: The President appeared in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to address the strengthening of missile defense in Europe. The President announced he had dropped the previous George W. Bush Administration's plans to site 10 interceptor missiles in Poland linked to radar in the Czech Republic. Transcript Fact-sheet Video
Restored the integrity of the United States in partnership with the United Nations
Day239/Sep18th/Friday: United States United Nation Ambassador Susan Rice joined White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House to outline the work at the United Nations over the eight months of the Obama Administration:
(1) negotiated a unanimous Security Council resolution on North Korea imposing the toughest sanctions on the books against any country in the world today.
(2) changed course and sought a seat on the Human Rights Council, and won the seat with 90 percent of the votes cast
(3) we stand firmly on principle and resolute on issues that matter most to us. But we're not picking petty battles simply for the sake of being contrary. In the past, we've sometimes let ourselves be defined as much by what we stand against as what we stand for. rescinded the Mexico City Policy that barred U.S. assistance to programs that support family planning and reproductive health services
(4) signed the first new human rights convention of the 21st century, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(5) reversed course to back a statement at the General Assembly opposing violence and discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation
(6) no longer balk at mentions of reproductive health, or oppose references to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(7) seek constructive working relationships with nations large and small, mindful of the fact that the United Nations consists of 192 member-states. All of them vote in the General Assembly. And more than half of the U.N.'s membership consists of small states with populations of less than 10 million people
meet our obligations. As we call on others to help reform and strengthen the United Nations, the United States has to do its part as well. And we are. We're paying our bills. We've worked with Congress to pay our dues in full and on time. And thanks to the strong support of Congress, we've been able to clear U.S. arrears to the U.N.'s regular budget and those to its peacekeeping budget, which accumulated from 2005 to 2008. We'll meet our 2009 obligations on the peacekeeping budget in full Transcript
Pursuing necessary steps toward a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine
Day243/Sep22nd/Tuesday: The President held separate bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahue of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Video
The President, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas held a trilateral meeting. The President opened the meeting by declaring: "Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security, but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians and have discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity. But they need to translate these discussions into real action on this and other issues. And it remains important for the Arab states to take concrete steps to promote peace." Transcript
Efforts to encourage and support improvements in the economies and development of the countries within the continent of Africa
President Obama joined 25 African heads of state, plus African Union Commissioner Jean Ping, at a lunch at the Waldorf Astoria. Also present at the lunch was United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, General James Jones and United States United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. The lunch focused on how the United States can forge stronger partnerships in Africa to create more opportunity for Africans and focused on three topics: job creation, particularly for youth; then increasing trade and investment; and particularly strengthening the agricultural sector and agricultural productivity. Source
The speech that may have overcome any hesitantcy by the Nobel Committee of awarding Obama their Peace Prize
Day244/Sep23rd/Wednesday: The President addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Among the Presidents remarks:
"I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me, mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history, and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad."
"Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But, it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009, more than at any point in human history, the interests of nations and peoples are shared. The religious convictions that we hold in our hearts can forge new bonds among people, or they can tear us apart. The technology we harness can light the path to peace, or forever darken it. The energy we use can sustain our planet, or destroy it. What happens to the hope of a single child, anywhere, can enrich our world, or impoverish it."
"But make no mistake: This cannot solely be America's endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone."
"The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the United Nations." Transcript Video
Achieving a unanimous U.N. Security Council vote to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials within 4 years
Day245/Sep24th/Thursday: The President chaired the UN Security Council meeting at the United Nations Headquarters. After unanimous Security Council passage of UNSC Resolution 1887, the President declared: "Today, the Security Council endorsed a global effort to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years. The United States will host a summit next April to advance this goal and help all nations achieve it. This resolution will also help strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat the smuggling, financing, and theft of proliferation-related materials. It calls on all states to freeze any financial assets that are being used for proliferation. And it calls for stronger safeguards to reduce the likelihood that peaceful nuclear weapons programs can be diverted to a weapons program, that peaceful nuclear programs can be diverted to a weapons program." Transcript Video
Day246/Sep25th/Friday: The President held a news conference at the close of the G20 Summit. He outlined the agreements reached:
(1) "to sustain our recovery plans until growth is restored, and a new framework for prosperity is in place"
(2) "to take concrete steps to move forward with tough, new financial regulations so that crises like this can never happen again"
(3) "bring more transparency to the derivatives market"
(4) "we will strengthen national capital standards, so that banks can withstand losses and pay for their own risks"
(5) "create more powerful tools to hold large global financial firms accountable, and orderly procedures to manage failures without burdening taxpayers"
(6) "we will tie executive pay to long-term performance, so that sound decisions are rewarded instead of short-term greed"
(7) "agreed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels so that we can transition to a 21st century energy economy"
(8) "agreed to reform our system of global economic cooperation and governance"
(9) "we will shift more responsibility to emerging economies within the International Monetary Fund, and give them a greater voice. To build new markets, and help the world's most vulnerable citizens climb out of poverty, we established a new World Bank Trust Fund to support investments in food security and financing for clean and affordable energy. And to ensure that we keep our commitments, we agreed to continue to take stock of our efforts going forward" Transcript Video
The following fact sheets outline the outcomes of the Pittsburgh Summit hosted by President Obama on September 24th and 25th.
The Pittsburgh Summit: Key Accomplishments LINK
Creating a 21st Century International Economic Architecture LINK
Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth LINK
Bold and Coordinated Actions from Crisis to Recovery LINK
Partnering on Food Security LINK
Acting on our Global Energy and Climate Change Challenges LINK
So, this writer has presented nine months worth of global peace initiatives sponsored and often delivered by Barack Obama. A lot in only nine months, but enough to be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize?
How could any informed and intelligent and mature citizen of the United States and the world think not?