Friday, October 09, 2009
More Of A Burden Than An Honor
There are two bad things about this. First, Obama is in the early stages of what he is trying to do, and this is making every country in the world sit down and review results rather than rhetoric at a time when international cooperation is truly needed. And the truth is that there are no achievements, which is no criticism of our president, because peace is not that easy and not that quick. Second, it is going to irk some of the world leaders very deeply, and in doing so, it is going to hamper Obama's and the US' efforts rather than facilitate them.
Obama could go over and give a really wonderful speech renouncing this prize that would greatly help him, but if he accepts it, he's going to regret it.
For myself, I was first incredulous and then just worried. I suppose it was kindly meant, but I think Spiegel's take is unfortunately the truth:
Denn ausgezeichnet wurde heute nicht der amerikanische Präsident, der harte und möglicherweise unpopuläre Entscheidungen zu treffen hat, sondern eine globale Symbolfigur, in die schon während des Wahlkampfes 2008 aus aller Welt Hoffnungen und Wünsche investiert wurden. Obama hat diese zum Teil übermenschlichen Erwartungen, die in ihn gesetzt wurden, lange Zeit fast eingefordert. Doch neun Monate nach seiner Vereidigung besteht seine politische Aufgabe nun darin, neben dem global geschätzten Hoffnungsträger endlich auch den Realpolitiker sichtbar werden zu lassen. Die Entscheidung aus Oslo wird ihm dabei nicht helfen. Sie ist eher eine Bürde als eine Ehre.Roughly: Distinguished today was not an American president who has perhaps to make difficult and potentially unpopular decisions, but a world wide symbol in whom since the 2008 election the hopes and wishes of the entire world have been invested. Obama has been almost demanding these somewhat superhuman expectations. Nine months after his oath of office his political task is now to manifest the functional politician in conjunction with the estimable bearer of global hope. The decision from Oslo will not help him. It is more a burden than an honor.
The article then goes on to review the lack of success so far in the American diplomatic initiatives, implies that he should not accept the prize, and then concludes with:
Falls er ihn dennoch annehmen sollte, ist ihm der Applaus aus Übersee bestimmt gewiss. Was sein eigenes Land betrifft, sollte er sich da nicht so sicher sein. Die Amerikaner wollen einen Präsidenten im Weißen Haus, keine Wunschfigur aus Oslo.Should he accept the prize, the foreign applause is certain. How his own country views it is not so certain. The Americans want a president in the White House, not a fantasy figure from Oslo.
Unpleasant but probably true.
I'm just reading around all the newspapers, absorbing the commentary. I had meant to post an economic summary, but I guess that will be tomorrow. Also I wanted to get back to incomes and the reality of how much the average household can pay for insurance, per Joy's "rough beast" comment, which had me laughing and wincing at the same time.
Update: Sigh. So he accepts. Famous last hopes.
Further Update: So I've watched his acceptance speech, and it turns out he accepted it with the intention to share with everybody else, and the prize means that the world wants the US to lead, and in any case, these goals are responsibility of all nations:
That's why my administration wants to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek.
"An affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations."Towards the end of the speech he says:
Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime, but I know that these challenges can be met, so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.So American leadership is just basically talking about it, and it's not America's responsibility. Methinks our pres just said he has no intention of becoming a functional politician to achieve these goals. He intends just to earnestly talk about them to motivate all nations, and nobody should complain that he doesn't become that functional politician, because really it is the world's responsibility, not HIS and not America's. He said he was "humbled" but I think he meant "pressured", and is trying to eliminate the soft bigotry of high expectations.
I guess we'll find out if this is really the leadership the world is seeking.
The reaction in the world's newspapers is surprisingly negative (per the comments). Except for Aftenposten, which is very excited that he is coming.
Let me recall some of the funniest:
Spain La Vanguardia - one suggestion that Obama split the prize with Osama Bin Laden, posted over and over again by someone pleased with his wit.
France - Le Figaro - "and what will we give him next? We've got to stop l'obamania!" And: "A prize should be awarded for results and not intentions. Along this line it will become necessary to give a prize to half of the planet's naive. If I were in Obama's place, I'd refuse out of respect for the prize and for myself." One commenter thought the prize was awarded to show that the Nobel Prize committee wasn't racist.
Times of India has a summary article up with "facts about the Nobel peace prize". Highlighted is the fact that both Stalin and Hitler were nominated.
It's Surreal Friday!
Dear Nobel Prize Committee,
I intend to cure cancer and end world hunger in the near future. Where do I pick up my prize?
In his mind it was long over due.
Can't wait to see what The Shrink says. Probably validation of Narcissistic Beliefs.
The poor Germans. They think this is given to actually help him do something. It will take a while for reality to sink in.
He achieved his goal. He is now directionless. He is a man of intelligence but without experience, common sense or wisdom. He does not the job just the title and it shows.
Any way to find out who nominated him ?
Oh relax, the US presidency and the Nobel Peace Prize are mainly ceremonial in scope.
Well, the US presidency is not ceremonial. It is an office with powers equivalent to those of most prime ministers.
As to the prize, well, in this case it is not only ceremonial but speculative. You, Sir or Madam, should try to develop a sense of humor. Just as poor Jaglund was trying to justify this to some rather incredulous reporters while the world was going "huh?", Obama threw them under the bus in an exquisitely masterful way.
The committee emphasized Obama's call for world nuclear disarmament. As this article explains:
Gro Holm, the senior commentator on foreign affairs at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp., says that the prize committee was probably trying both to ratify Obama’s immense international popularity and put pressure on him to deliver on the promise of greater international peace and stability.
She says Obama’s plan to scrap the missile shield was a “symbolic step” that “calmed down the Russians” and earned him praise in many European capitals, but also says the award was given, more than anything, to push Obama toward what the committee hopes he can achieve. “There is a feeling here that this is a risk. What does it say about the award if progress isn’t made? I think Obama is a deeply moral man, and this seems designed to remind him of his promises.”
Mind you, there were calls and comments in every country for him to reject the prize. But no, he gave an acceptance speech and said:
A) He thinks they should have given the prize to people who have actually been transformative,
B) He realizes they want America to provide leadership, but,
C) He's accepting this as a call to action BY ALL NATIONS, and
D) Guess what, these things aren't going to get done in his administration,
E) Most especially not nuclear disarmament, and
E) It is not America's or his job anyway.
This is hilarious! And don't think ROW isn't aware of it. I have read multiple comments in different languages about the Oscar Obama deserved. The best part is that the committee can't say a darned thing in rebuttal, because they said that his performance to date had fully merited the prize.
A bunch of foreign newspapers have had polls on whether this award was justified, and all of them are "no" landslides.
Now on a serious note. Poor Alfred Nobel must be spinning in his grave. He had good intentions. I doubt they were in line with what has happened.
Let's look on the bright side - some charity like uh, uh, er ACORN or uh, er, Rev. Wright's Church is going to get a cash infusion. Just great!
"We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan. He has not taken a single step for peace in Afghanistan or to make this country stable," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. "We condemn the award of the Noble Peace Prize for Obama," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
And I rather like Obama, although I have never yet liked his numbers and I believe his presidency will be seen as a failure without grappling with real numbers.
MANY of the foreign commenters expressed both their like of Obama and their approval of his actions so far along with their complete surprise over this.
In paper after paper, Obama's record so far was reviewed. This hasn't helped him, although his acceptance was pretty clever. He can't afford to be made into a Messiah. And scroll back up and read the excerpt again. It talks about "promises". Obama hasn't made much in the way of promises.
I read his books. Obama truly believes that if people get together in a certain way and talk in a certain spirit then things will change. This is a collision between different cultures who don't understand each other at all.
The committee and about half the Europeans deserve the drubbing he just gave them. Unfortunately, it may turn out that the smaller countries in Europe and in multiple other places wind up suffering greatly.
In the meantime, Sarkozy is probably having a very, very bad night.
I'm sure he'll figure out a way to spread the gift around gracefully. Maybe he'll give it to a UN organization.
Copenhagen is coming up, and the Europeans are already screaming about that.
A few days ago Iran was threatening to nuke Israel if anybody moved against Iran, but now they seem surprised that Israel intends to prevent it. Article:
Cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, who is the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the Guard, said that if a U.S. or Israeli missile lands in Iran, Iranian missiles will hit Israel in retaliation.
"Should a single American or Zionist missile land in our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel," Zolnour was quoted as saying by the state IRNA news agency.
You say the Europeans are complaining about Copenhagen. Are they starting to see through the green agenda or are they thinking obama won't push it hard enough? Inquiring minds want to klnow.