Friday, December 11, 2009

Sign Me Up!

President Obama has finally accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, and it's a new day.

Some have found the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision perplexing. Astounding. Enervating, even. But I see it as great news. In fact, I am very, very excited.

Just think. Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize means that anyone, anywhere can accomplish anything. All he or she has to do is....think about it.
The committee requires that nominations for the prize be sent in before Feb. 1 each year. This means that Obama was nominated about 12 days after he took office. Did something other than cocktail parties and the first family getting cozy in their new digs take place during those early days at the White House, that everyone somehow missed?
According to the Nobel Foundation, the prize is given to "the person who has done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." I don't think Obama has held any peace congresses — short of, perhaps, refereeing arguments between his daughters.
Fraternity among nations? Air Force One had barely made it over the Atlantic at that time. And I haven't seen any pictures of the president puffing on a hookah pipe with Arab warlords. Bowing to them, yes. But that came after.
Oh, wait. Could it be for his "abolition or reduction of standing armies." Like those in ... Afghanistan? At last count, he had sent in 21,000 extra troops and is about to deploy 30,000 more. So much for peace.
Maybe that's why audience members in Oslo gasped when they heard Obama's name announced. They weren't the only ones. The Times of London called it "absurd," saying that the decision "makes a mockery of the prize." However, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the prize in 1984, told the Associated Press that the award acknowledged not what Obama had done, but that "great things are expected from him in coming years."
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg concurred. "The exciting and important thing about this prize is that it's given to someone ... who has the power to contribute to peace," he said. But Times reporter Michael Binyon highlighted the danger of handing out peace prizes based on hope.
"Mr Obama's prize is more be compared with the most contentious prize of all: the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their negotiations to end the Vietnam war," he wrote. "Dr. Kissinger was branded a warmonger for his support for the bombing campaign in Cambodia; and the Vietnamese negotiator was subsequently seen as a liar whose government never intended to honor a peace deal but was waiting for the moment to attack South Vietnam."
Obama joins a list of revered names. The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, Andrei Sakharov, Lech WalĂȘsa all received the Nobel Peace Prize. So did Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa and Barack Obama. Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. Ever think you'd hear those names in the same sentence?
Mahatma Ghandi was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize but never received one. Just think about that for a second.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure President Obama is a great guy, with noble aspirations. But Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King he is not.
I, for one, am looking on the bright side, however. After all, if we're now handing out major awards to anyone who has "the power" to achieve the things that these awards symbolize, we're all in luck.
It means I might receive an Oscar, based on the screenplays I'm writing. It means that one of my colleagues in the newsroom might receive the Pulitzer Prize, based on future stories she might write. Come to think of it, I'd like one of those, too, please.
It means that my daughter, who just qualified for the pre-swim team at the YMCA, should just go ahead and collect her gold medal for the 200 meter butterfly in the 2020 Olympics. Hey, she has the power. She has the potential. She may even master the dolphin kick soon.
So forget the recession. Forget unemployment. Forget Paris. If you're one of those people who never wins anything, this is your lucky day.
Heisman Trophy? Grammy? Rhodes Scholarship? Just step right up, folks, and send in your nominations, folks.
Oh, and don't forget to e-mail me your Social Security number, date of birth and underwear size, so I can deposit the $2.4 million prize money in your bank account, too.
Annabelle Robertson is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Southern Girl's Guide to Surviving the Newlywed Years: How to Stay Sane Once You've Caught Your Man. She lives in Sumter, SC.


Cruella Collett said...

Let me first congratulate you on winning the Pulitzer and the Oscar!

I started typing a response to this, and then it got so ridiculously long that I decided to instead post it as a separate blog post with a link to this post, and only give an excerpt here.

While I happen to disagree with you on many of the points you are raising, I think you are doing it in an intelligent and amusing way – which is refreshing seeing as much of the debate has been very polarized. Either people seemed to hate or love this year’s award, while few seemed willing to actually take a look at the reasoning behind the prize. I’m happy to see that you did not fall for this temptation.

What I mostly felt like pointing out is the fact that there is a difference between being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and being considered for it. Obama may have been nominated before he had much time to fulfill any of the reasons the committee gave for awarding him the price, but he has been able to make up for this between February and October when the final decision was made. In these months, in the committee’s opinion, Obama was the man who did most for international diplomacy or “fraternity among the peoples” (keynote speech in Egypt to the Moslem world in June; improved relations with Russia; reaffirmation of U.S. support to the United Nations); and for his work towards a world free of nuclear weapons (most importantly through his cooperation with Russia). Any potential, future achievements or failures in these or other issues are not considered when deciding who wins the prize – no matter what Jens Stoltenberg, Desmond Tutu or Michael Binyon (there you’ve got three names you never thought you’d hear in the same sentence) says. The Nobel Peace Prize does not work as a sanction, so the fact that Obama after the announcement decided to send more troops to Afghanistan does not affect the prize. It is unfortunate, perhaps, but it is also unrelated (unfortunately. Perhaps).

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middlesex said...

I have read so much blogs and every one asked really he deserve it??????

Yes the honorable peace prize on the right handed..

Jennie Bentley said...

Thank you, Annabelle. I laughed until I cried at some of this. The rest, I just cried. Bless you for writing such a reasoned, funny, thought-provoking post.