Congratulations to President Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m not sure that our humble blog can add much to what has already been said about this surprising announcement. Richard thinks it is a good thing to reward someone who has announced that his Administration will be different from the last in terms of commitment to dialogue, collective action through the United Nations, and multilateralism. I, on the other hand, am a bit suspicious that the award is not so much a tribute to President Obama as it is another slap to President Bush by the European community.
Politically, I am not sure what this means for President Obama. I think it is not necessarily a bad thing for an American President to be popular with the citizens of other countries, but the question is: popular for what? Winning the Nobel Peace Prize 9 months into your Administration, without a concrete peace-related accomplishment to your name, seems bizarre. The stated reason for the award seems to be that it is aspirational and intended to be inspirational — that is, an effort by the awards committee to push American policy in a particular direction. I hope President Obama does not let the award influence his decision-making on matters of American national interest, like how we should proceed in Afghanistan. Those decisions should be based on a hard-headed assessment of American interests, not on concerns about the perceptions or interests of a Scandinavian committee.