Friday, October 09, 2009

Peace Prize Premature?

I think criticisms that the Peace Prize for Obama is coming too soon don't take into account the committee's own standards. See especially the highlighted bit. They're both rewarding him for turning the aircraft carrier and trying to make it easier for him to complete the turn.

And I think they're also rewarding the risks he took. A few international rebuffs could have seriously damaged his presidency, but he took the risk that they might happen anyway. I can't believe that the committee didn't take that into account.

Taken from (emphasis added):
The Nobel Peace Prize: From Peace Negotiations to Human Rights
Francis Sejersted
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Commitee, 1991-1999
26 April 2001

I have cited the general clause in Nobel's will saying that the prizes should be given to those who "in the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit on makind." With regard to the Peace Prize, Nobel defined this as having "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." The most difficult stipulation to live up to has undoubtedly been "in the preceding year." This is now understood to indicate the most recent contributions in the various cultural fields to which the will refers. Where the Peace Prize is concerned, the wording has been seen as opening up opportunities to engage in processes which have not yet reached a conclusion, but where there has been clear evidence of progress, as in the democratisation process in South Africa or the peace process in the Middle East, for which the Peace Prizes were awarded in 1993 and 1994. The Prize awarded in 1998 to John Hume and David Trimble of Northern Ireland can be seen in the same light. The Prize, in other words, is not only for past achievement, although that is the most important criterion. The committee also takes the possible positive effects of its choices into account. Among the reasons for adding this as a criterion is the obvious point that Nobel wanted the Prize to have political effects. Awarding a Peace Prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act – which is also the reason why the choices so often stir up controversy.



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