Well – I had not planned to discuss Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I really did not think that I had a lot say about it. However, it has brought many reactions from many people (See this NY Times article that summarizes). So, I figured that I would post a few thoughts. Overall, does it seem a bit early? Yes. Is it deserved? Yes. So, you may be asking – why do I think it is deserved? I suppose when I heard that Obama had won I instantly thought – “Wow – that was unexpected (I sense Obama felt the same).” However, then I reflected upon what Obama has moved this country past and how he has changed America’s reputation in the world. So, I felt that it was time to reflect upon those items.
1.) He has pledges to close Guantanamo Bay, which is a human rights travesty that should make all American ashamed. I will not exhaust this one too much, but here are three simple facts. a.) We tortured people here (by the way – read this great open letter from Andrew Sullivan to George Bush that asks him to take responsibility for this travesty. b.) We kept shoddy records of why these people were in Guantanamo in the first place. c.) Because we managed this place poorly, it damaged the US reputation in the world.
2.) He has engaged America with the Muslim world (a much needed step for peace).
3.) He has helped us redefine race relations within this country. I still believe that his speech about race that he gave during his campaign in Philadelphia is one of his finest.
Overall, here is a quote from an Iraqi (Hussein Ali Harrif, the head of the artistic education department at the University of Baghdad) that I feel summarizes this award succinctly: “He really deserved it, he is more than a politician. Even though not enough time has passed for a full judgment, we can see that through his speeches, some decisions he made and his legislation that he is trying to mend the faults which his predecessor has created. Obama is trying to make his words meet his acts and he has a genuine intention in building good human relations, especially with the Muslim world.”
In the end, Obama still needs to deliver. I think this award says we believe in his promise and recognize how quickly he changed the mood of the world. If anything, I think it places more accountability on him, which is never a bad thing!