As a supporter of President Obama, I knew that this day would come, I just didn't think it would come so soon. I believe the President deserves an enormous amount of credit for changing the tone of American diplomacy in his first 8-9 months in office. This tone change is responsible for a dramatic improvement in the way Americans are perceived abroad. In a recent poll reported in Time Magazine (see http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/10/07/barack-obama-gasp-good-for-america/ ), America is now the most admired country in the world, up from seventh only a year ago.
For all of that, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama at this time was a bit surprising to me, to say the least. I read through some of the articles and reports to see if I could gain some insight into the thinking of the Nobel committee as to what brought this about. Sure, there are the jokesters and one liners about the President not being George Bush and all of that, but how did this all come about and why.
The eureka moment came to me after reading two separate AP reports. In the first, the AP reporters interviewed a member of the Nobel Committee who articulated the reason for the nomination. Conspicuously mentioned was the Presidents commitment to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_nobel_peace :
The Norwegian Nobel Committee countered that it was trying "to promote what he stands for and the positive processes that have started now." It lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation, and praised his pledges to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms, ease American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthen the U.S. role in combating climate change.
The peace prize was created partly to encourage ongoing peace efforts but Obama's efforts are at far earlier stages than past winners'. The Nobel committee acknowledged that they may not bear fruit at all.
"He got the prize because he has been able to change the international climate," Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said. "Some people say, and I understand it, isn't it premature? Too early? Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now. It is now that we have the opportunity to respond -- all of us.".