Friday, 9 October 2009
Obama and The Nobel Peace Prize
I have just recieved a startling piece of news. Barack Obama of Illinois has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - that holy grail of liberal statecraft - for his incomparable services to the cause of humanity. Absurdly, I find myself in direct agreement with Pakistan's Jammat-e-Islami on this matter: It is an embarrasing joke. With one fell swoop, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has succesfully eroded more than a century of painfully-built global legitimacy. It is a comment on the politico-cultural bias unique to Scandinavians whose lives condition them for an exxagerated appreciation of good-intentions, international conferences and the language of world-peace. Perhaps, it's an atonement for the invention of dynamite.
The political implications on Capitol Hill however, are infintely more fascinating. The well-intentioned award of the Nobel to Obama has put him in a rather tough position. It has elevated the romance of Obama and his world-historical stature to a 'comedy confection'. Now more than ever, Obama will face renewed pressure to 'do something', to act and to be seen to act on the policy quagmires of the day.
Rahm Emmanuel would do better to think strategically and advise his boss to politely reject the prize. Sadly for Obama, the damage has been done. He has been unable to manage the utopian expectations arising from his charismatic run for President. Charisma has been replaced by satire. The Scandinavians may just have written Barack Obama's political obituary.
Update: Ashok Malik writes on the topic in Tehelka