Friday, 9 October 2009


“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The award of the Nobel Prize for Peace to US president Barack Obama has given rise to controversy throughout the world. The Nobel Committee as a justification for its choices, cited “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. However, even his staunchest supporters know that none of these dreams have yet come true. A prize for a dream and for a politician’s visionary and nebulous promises may be seen by many as hasty and ill-advised.

On the one hand it is reassuring to see the Nobel Committee choosing to reward an idea, an intention, a pipe dream, if you like. On the other one wonders if this is a much more canny decision. Is this award a means of keeping a politician honest and a good way to ensure that he delivers on his promises? There has been an enormous responsibility placed on the US president now to make his dreams a reality. If he does not deliver, then the outcry will be worldwide and the clamour much louder than that of the controversy surrounding his award.

Many opponents of the Nobel Committee’s choice are the usual war-mongering, pro-war fraternity who wish to see a US president reign by inciting fear and waging war as a means of preserving peace. They wish their president to be powerful and feared, rather than be seen as weak and pro-peace. They see the award of the prize to Obama as an affirmation of his socialist leanings and weakness in matters of international policy.

This view is diametrically opposed by another group of dissenters, who agree only on one point with the former group, and that is they concur with the error of the prize award to Obama. These latter objectors remark that “actions speak louder than words”. The prize should be better given to a peacemaker of action, someone who has worked actively and with the proven results of making the world a better place to live in. Who, for example, would object to the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize winners, the group Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders)? Was a Nobel Peace Prize better awarded than to this group of doctors who travel the world in order to help bring medical care to sick people irrespective of race, creed or political convictions?

I have mixed feelings about this year’s choice for the Nobel Peace Prize. I would rather have had a similar group like the Doctors without Borders be awarded. On the other hand, I sincerely hope that the US president will now feel the weight of responsibility heavy on his shoulders and realise his grandiloquent promises. I can only hope that the number the Nobel Committee has put its chips on to win, will do so – much is riding on it…

For Music Saturday, an apt choice perhaps, Gustav Holst’s “Venus – The Bringer of Peace” from his “Planets” suite, played by the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Sir Colin Davis.


  1. Actually there is much precedent for awarding Obama this prize even though he has not achieved his goals yet (though I would argue that he really shifted global cooperation around after the Bush years). The Nobel committee often awards on promise or just the "paradyne shift."

    Gore got it for his making the world aware of global warming. He by no means solved the problem but he raised the question.

    Some of the detractors have argued that they are just awarding his rhetoric. And what is wrong with that? He has dared to say things that were dynamically opposed to the way the world was going during the GW Bush years.

    And the Peace prize is not always given for ending war. And can be given for making progress on some front that as seen as a basis for war.

    I read a column recently where the drought in the middle east and Somalia has been the cause of the wars there. Or the failure of wars succeeding as in Afghanistan. Some scholars now blame the fall of the Roman Empire on a volcanic eruption that plunged their section of the world into a volcanic winter.

    So anyone that solves drought or global warming or volcanic eruptions or even comes up with an approach that might solve it could be given the Peace Prize.

    Obama shut down cowboy diplomacy and began conversations with the world. He has engaged in the dialog on religious intolerance and global warming. I think what he has opened up since being elected to office has been huge.

    Yes, he has not achieved anything concrete yet (though the Russians are talking to us again) but he is moving in the right direction. I think the Nobel Peace Prize was a thumbs up.

  2. I think its a great honor for our president to have been given this award. I am sure that he deserves it.
    Lovely music!

  3. An idea, a fresh way of looking at things, a resetting of priorities, a different attitude, a quest for lost of ideals all deserve recognition. I believe that is why Obama got the Nobel Prize.
    I think that is a well deserved prize and it will do much to further world peace.

  4. I just listened to the music. Absolutely beautiful!
    Thanks for introducing me to this, I had never heard it before.

  5. I agree that the President has yet to prove that he's a peace bringer, it's just been too early days.

    I'm sure there are many others more worthy of it who have already made extraordinary efforts in this respect.

    Who knows? Maybe Obama will succeed in his goals, time will tell, I guess.

  6. I really cannot make up my mind whether this was too soon. I am not normally so indecisive but I'm still listening to the arguments for both sides.

    My initial reaction was 'too soon' until my husband put forward the reason why he thought it was not.

    It does seem as though he is on the right path though.