Saturday, October 10, 2009

Give it up for Barry: Why Obama should graciously decline the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, plus the speech he should give when he does

Don't get me wrong: I like President Barack Hussein Obama. Though I didn't vote for him in 2008 (as a protest against Obama unfairly and misleadingly blaming South Korean and Japanese automakers for Detroit's woes, I wrote in another Democrat), I support more than 95% of what he has done thus far and I have every intention of enthusiastically voting for him in 2012.

But he does not deserve to be a Nobel Laureate — not yet. And I think he knows that. Toward that end, he should respectfully refuse to accept this esteemed award, and the speech he gives should touch on these points:
To the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, I wish to express my gratitude for having chosen me to receive this most prestigious of awards. Over the past century it has been awarded to people whose spirit, vision, work, and sacrifice have made the world a far better and more hopeful place than had they not existed.

But I am here to say, respectfully, that I am not among them. Not yet. While I aspire to help my country and this world achieve the peace and fraternity between nations that the Nobel Committee envisions, I humbly submit that I have thus far done too little in my life as a public servant to deserve this honor. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart and a sober mind that I decline the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

There are indeed many other worthy people on which to bestow this honor. Some, like Gao Zhisheng of China and Kang Cholhwan of North Korea, have provided a picture of courage and vision for a better country that respects human rights. Others, like Bill Gates and former President Bill Clinton, have shown how using the awesome social and financial capital at their disposal can better the lives of millions and bring peace and stability to lands where neither is familiar.

I understand why the Nobel Committee chose me as their recipient this year. Over the past twelve months we have been witnessing a sea change in how nations interact to deal with the common threats and problems that face us, from nuclear threat to terrorism to environmental destruction, and I as president of the most powerful country on Earth am seen as one who has been spearheading that change.

But the irony of receiving this award at a time when I must mull sending more troops to an already war-weary region is just too great. Granted, this is a responsibility I face because of my predecessor, but his decision to send the forces of the US and its allies to Afghanistan was the right one, even if it may not have been executed as well as some of us would have liked. Indeed, many of the things I am noted for, including reaching out to the Muslim world to effect a more peaceful coexistence, were also done by Mr Bush, who referred to Islam as a religion of peace. Yet I am being credited with promoting hope for a better future when I have done too little on which to base that decision.

I respectfully submit that the Nobel Committee has thus been premature in awarding me this prize, for over the rest of my presidency I will be compelled to make individual decisions — including the deployment of troops — that themselves may not seem fitting of a Nobel Peace Laureate, even if in the long run they achieve the goal of stability and prosperity in war-torn lands.

It is not clear if the Nobel Committee hoped this reward would nudge my actions away from using military might, or if they are acknowledging that the judicious use of military might in the face of tyranny and violence may sometimes be acceptable. But in either case, I feel it would be imprudent for me to accept this prize based on something I have yet to do in the future.

It has been, of course, the nature of the Peace Prize that those who receive it may still be in the process of achieving that for which they have won the award. But there has always been a sufficient amount of time between their most notable acts worthy of recognition and the time when they received that recognition. I cannot say that that is the case with me, which is why I must forgo this accolade.

But even as I give up this honor, I am taking up a challenge. After my presidency ends and I re-enter the world as a private citizen, I would like the Nobel Committee to look back at what I've accomplished and consider again, at that later date, if I am deserving of this award. In the aggregate, after the decisions I've made — popular and unpopular — and the actions I've taken and the direction I've led my country and the world, am I still deserving of this prize? I hope the answer is yes, and at that time, I will enthusiastically accept.

But for now, I must decline. Thank you.
I don't know that he would actually do this, and I won't fault him for going ahead and accepting the Nobel. On the face of it, he may deserve it when one considers the stated goal of the prize, which is to honor this type of person:
to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
Okay, I guess that the fraternity part and the promotion of peace congresses part sort of applies to him. Maybe this is actually a way of going back to the prize's roots. But he should be humble enough to recognize that, right now at least, others are more deserving, including his predecessor Bill Clinton, who perhaps should get it along with Bill Gates. Those two — and the organizations and people to whom they are channeling so much money — are doing much in Africa, an entire continent largely ignored by the rest of the world and left to fester.

Give it up, Barry. It's the right thing to do. It will mean more when you get it later.


  1. He acknowledged that he wasn't deserving and even though he accepts it, I'm more concerned that he's going to escalate Afghanistan with more Dem support under the guise of peace.

  2. I liked what Jake Tapper said: apparently there are more stringent standards for getting an honorary degree from ASU.

  3. I actually think he made a very gracious acceptance speech (or whatever one would call it). Though I still think giving up the award would be a proper thing to do, if it is to be accepted, he is accepting it with the right kind of attitude. My respect for the man has not diminished in any way.

  4. Again, I think many of us are being unfair to the President. I think he did make strides in trying to improve relations overseas and the world is giving him and the USA their thumbs up (at least the countries that the Nobel Committee people represent). This is a helluva lot better than the image the US had with the previous administration. Also, the other candidates, although meritable (is that a word?), didn't really stand out as in years past. Also, if he refused the prize, can you imagine what a 'spit in the face' that would be to not only the Nobel people, but to the international community?? Let's just pat him on the back for his award and move on. Again I say this...we loathed Kanye West for denouncing an award to somebody who didn't really deserve it (yes, I don't think Taylor Swift deserved best female video), and yet we are being disrespectful to Obama for his peace-making efforts.


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