In listening to chatter about the announcement this morning that President Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize, there seems to be a few schools of thought emerging.
The first is my own, which is that this is premature, and Nobels should be awarded for real accomplishments. Words and good intentions are not actions, and while Obama has helped move things along in areas like re-engaging the U.S. in world diplomacy... there remains a glaring lack of significant accomplishment. One colleague called it lingering European post-election love, especially considering that he was officially nominated in February of this year, just one month after taking office.
Another is that a Nobel serves as a booster for efforts- like eating Mario or Luigi finding a fire flower (laugh all you want, this is how eloquent I get on a Friday). As the Nobel committee chairman said:
In response to questions from reporters in Oslo, who noted that Obama so far has made little concrete progress in achieving his lofty agenda, committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said he hoped the prize would add momentum to Obama's efforts. At the same time, Jagland said, "We have not given the prize for what may happen in the future. We are awarding Obama for what he has done in the past year. And we are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do."
I don't think I agree with that as the purpose of a Nobel prize, but as a progressive, I certainly like that kind of boost. I'll never say no to getting a booster towards ridding the world of nuclear arms, or peace in Israel, or combating global warming- all things Obama has dedicated himself towards. Robert Naiman points out that a Nobel was awarded to Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his efforts towards ending apartheid in South Africa, even though apartheid wasn't fully ended until a decade later. It was more of an encouragement than a note of real accomplishment.
In the end, since it seems more important to get that kind of boost to one's credibility, stature, etc. and actually achieve some good, I'm glad he was awarded the Prize. I remain wholly skeptical of both the rationale and any real accomplishments, but progress is more important, and this furthers progress.