Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Ironies

Well, someone has finally come out with a suggestion for an alternate 2009 Peace Prize recipient -- the Washington Post editorialized that the prize should have gone to Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman killed during the Iranian uprising.

They seemed to forget that Nobels are not awarded posthumously.

Not to mention the fact that she died after the nominations closed.

Thing is, this suggestion would bring up the same objections as the Obama award -- it would not be a prize for accomplishment. Rather bizarre, especially because the editorial starts out by complaining that Obama's award was supposedly all prospective, not for any actual accomplishments.

I think that's clearly wrong -- there are concrete accomplishments to point to. Mark Kleiman gave a good summary of them.

Others make a more reasonable argument -- that the accomplishments aren't numerous enough yet, and that the award would be more fitting later. But it seems to me that these awards often go to works in progress. Human rights in Burma, ending apartheid, peace in the Middle East, fighting famine, ending global warming -- all of these causes were recognized by Peace Prizes long before the goals had been accomplished (indeed, most of them still haven't been accomplished). Still others complain that the changes haven't come as quickly or as sweepingly as they should have. I have a lot of sympathy for that viewpoint, but we have to remember that we aren't a dictatorship -- and sometimes leaders have to recognize limits on their powers.

These objections are quite different from the unhinged craziness coming from the right, which is nothing less than we should expect from them.

But still they are a bit surprising coming from the center and the left. I don't recall such complaints when Gore shared the Peace Prize, and that award was just as "aspirational", if not more so, than Obama's.

I think Obama's award is being held to a higher standard than previous Peace Prize awards. And that's sad.


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