President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 by The Norwegian Nobel Committee. There have been a lot of reactions of course since this is he world’s most prestigious prize – some positive and some very negative. Since my blog is about Norway and the Nordic countries, I though I should reflect on it (even if I normally don’t post about politics). However, I want us to learn something from my posts, so let’s start with some backgrounds from the committee’s own site:

The Norwegian Committee:
Whereas the other prizes are awarded by specialist committees based in Sweden, the Peace Prize is awarded by a committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. According to Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever “shall have 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 Committee’s reasons for the 2009 Prize:
“…for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. …. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. …… The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Some reactions from Norwegians:
Jan Egeland (foreign UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs): “I think this is a great price. I am pleased that the Committee is able to wait until the last second before deciding, because I think that it was Obama’s atomic resolution in New York (September 24, editor’s note), which means the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons, as was decisive here.
It is not naïve to give him the prize; because there is precedent for that we are to inspire action. It can not at least make here is to send a strong signal to those sour grin EBIT explained that sitting on the fence around Europe, and for the portion of a divided American public opinion, which says that Obama is trying to achieve is just a lot of big words.

Nils A. Butenschøn (Norwegian Center for Human Rights): This was very surprising. It’s highly unusual, both that one receives the prize so early in his career, and that the winner does not have as much to show for. It is very early in his political careers. The U.S. president has a major impact internationally, but you still waiting for results. Obama has some initiatives, but we have not seen the results of initiatives. One may wonder if this is the wish of the Nobel Committee to achieve the status it gives to give the award to the U.S. President.

CNNs Jonathan Mann:
There are of course pro & contra about the prize for 2009 as have been for the most of them since 1901. In my opinion; Obama has way to go, but he has created a new climate in international politics and multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position. He also has started the end of the Guantanamo base and stopped the missile defence shield in Europe. What really provoked me about all this reactions however, was what Mann said:

He has for many years to come to Oslo with his CNN team to interview the winner the day before the Awards 10th of December. He did not hide the fact that the Nobel Committee can not be in step with popular opinion, neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world. “For Americans, these people are mostly social democrats and socialists, progressive types. They come from semi-socialist Scandinavian countries and have its own view of the president they love and what a president they do not like” said Mann.

I do hope not all Americans are so narrow-minded that they believe that their form for democracy is the only one which counts. Yes we believe in sharing the wealth (including public health care) and we acknowledge feminism and same sex marriage – if that is too progressive, you’re welcome after. Social democrats are no less democratic, and we are quite happy to be ranked 1st as the best country to live in according to UN’s Human Development Report 2009 so something about the social democratic process must be working quite well :-)

BTW: I have the privilege of being married to a good old American girl, so I have learned quite a bit about American politics over the years. It was a lot of fun informing her that Obama won the Peace Prize today. As most of you know she has a mind of her own, and a blog of her own, hop on over and see what she has to say about the subject.


  1. Pingback:DianeCA Congratulates Obama on inspiring Peace « DianeCA’s Metamorphoses

  2. I am of the opinion that it was indeed a good thing. If for nothing else, Obama was embraced by people around the globe as a symbol of hope in a world that is increasingly being experienced with hopelessness and powerlessness. Thanks Renney.

  3. Renny, for my two cents worth, I agree with Nils A. Butenschøn above. I too believe that it was premature to award Obama the peace prize now. I think that it would have been more appropriate to perhaps consider him as a candidate after his term in office as president. All the best, and peace to you and yours!

  4. Like most people I was surprised to learn that President Obama is to be awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. It is probably premature and certainly daring to award the prize this early in his career. It is a recognition of President Obama’s stated intentions than an acknowledgment of part accomplishments.

    I think that the committee wished to give credence and encouragement to his stated desire for the abolishment of nuclear weapons and his obvious willingness to work multinationally for the peaceful resolution of armed conflict.

    I pray that the decision is borne out to be a wise one and that the future reveals President Obama to be a worthy recipient.

  5. I have to be careful. If I say anything negative, Jimmy Carter will call me a racist.
    I may be wrong, but I heard yesterday that nominations for this award closed in Feb. 2009? Is that correct? BHO had only been office a few weeks by then.
    Does the awards committee typically give this prestigious award based on what they HOPE the recipient WILL do in the future?
    Perhaps I’m too focused on results.
    Is Guantanamo still open?
    Are we out of Iraq?
    Are we still in Afghanistan?
    Is America less racist now?
    Are we any closer to national health care?
    Have we actually disarmed a single nuclear weapon?

  6. I do believe that Bob Dylan was and still are one of B O’s ideals when talking about peace.
    I was one of those people that would have voted for the Peace Movement that started in the 1960’ies. and Bob Dylan, among others was one of the leaders to create the idea of peace – and not to forget the song.
    By Peter. Paul and Mary:
    Where have all the – –

    Conclusion for me: 2 years to early

  7. I think the commitee did a good job. The basis for peace must be laid in dialog and trust. After the way we have acted the past 8 years that will take a lot of patience and time. I feel the award will give Obama an extra weight to his arguments for change on an international basis.Guantanamo can’t be closed overnight, the prisoners need to be charged or returned, and a safe place to be returned to. Iraq can’t be left instantly, a stable government needs to be in place, it would be irresponsible to draw out overnight. yes, I do think America is less racist, otherwise he wouldn’t have won. If the National health care were in place overnight thousands would be out of work in the insurance industry, it needs to be done one step at a time…and nuclear disarmement also is a process, at least it is on the table now. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I hope that will be resolved as quickly as possible. Nobody could do the job better than Obama has done so far. Peace is a delicate process and one must step carefully not to start new conflicts. We need to have a little faith and support the peace process…and well I think that is what the commitee has done.

  8. I am really confused. Seems more of an Anti-Bush move?

    … in any case, I guess we can hope this award may prove to be warrented in the future.

  9. I am even more convinced than before, that the prize is for a vision of peace that has captured an entire world in a short period of time. That the vision has been led by a charismatic and powerful person like Barack Obama is why I believe he is the recipeint — he is the manifestation of that vision. Can you imagine the uproar if the prize was given to a “vision”?

    So what better way to celebrate the intention of Alfred Nobel’s peace legacy than to go beyond the obvious and proactively seek peacemakers — while letting other movements give prizes to implementing peace. Without belittling the work that peacekeepers or implementers of peace do — and they do an amazing job, what the world needs now is vision and hope — so that more can be energized to do and act. Mr Obama has provided that in many ways.

    I’m disappointed that so many see the prize as meddling with US affairs — it is not. It is not even an American prize as aI alluded to before. Actually, the devil in me smiled :-) — “the shoe is now on the other foot”, I thought. Now Americans get an idea of how irritating it has been for many people around the world to have American meddling over the years — from Vietnam to Chile :-)

    Actually, it is a sobering time — for all who share such a vision. Much work is to be done.

    Can supporting governments help Obama make a dignified exit from Afghanistan? That is the biggest challenge for supporters of the Obama award.

  10. Like many, I support Obama’s but I was very surprised of the decision. Despite having plan for a new international policy, Obama hasn’t done much yet, mostly because politics take time. This huge acknowledgment seems a bit premature to me…

    I understand that the committee meant well though, and there is nothing really wrong with the decision.

  11. this is very a interesting post Renny! I guess the committee is consist of expert professionals who did their best in trying to select the best choice, thus arriving the best decision. congrats to all Nobel prize winners!

  12. Hey Renny,

    I was very happy for President Obama. Even though I do not see eye to eye, with him, in some issues; I was very pleased for him being the recipient of this award because his diplomatic efforts should be recognised and rewarded. Plus, this prize is to the American people: Europe (specially Norway/Sweden) are commanding the Americans for having had the thirst for change and thus for having voting for such an incredible and unique President (because he is unique, even though I do not suffer from Obama-mania).

    About Social-democracy: Here’s to it *Salute*!! I am a social-democrat (I believe in humane capitalism; i.e. profits being re-invested in the society so that our community’s life can be improved); and I feel sorry for those Americans who cannot tell a difference between Socialism, social-democracy and communism (yes, because there are those who can tell the difference).
    Obama is not a socialist, nor a communist: he is, rather, a responsible capitalist.

    Great post; and I will use this link to answer some readers who like to slam President Obama and the Nobel Prize (they might learn something from your article): thanks, mate :D!


  13. It’s a done decision, so I can only congratulate him to this prize and I really hope that he will be able to live up to it. It seem now like he would. I like Obama – or the vision of him and his work. It gives hope for the future.

    I think most of us were very surprised that he got it since he hasn’t done that much yet, even though he has taken the first steps. He need a lot of support and encourage to get through with all this hard work that is needed, so lets hope he get that!

  14. Even though I am an Obama ‘fan’ – I feel it was too early. When I consider what previous recipients had to go through before they were bestowed with this prestigious award…….. well…

    Done is done – better just get on with the job.

  15. Renny, i thought your blog should reflect about this since it’s about Norway although you’re not into politics like me.

    In my opinion, responsibility is the key bind this nomination from my point of view although I am neither American nor European as you might know..

    Anyway I shared too some thoughts regarding this over my blog so you’re welcome to check.

  16. Even the Taliban has issued a press statement that “Obama has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan”. What a joke the Nobel Peace Prize has become.

  17. Even we here in America are discussing this award, Renny, with similar responses to what I have read here. I think we’re all surprised! Some have even used the word “embarrassed.” However, if Peace begins within us, first as a thought and a vision, before it can start to materialize and spread, then Obama is the epitome of the Peace Process, IMHO. When you think what has happened the last 8 years and what he has had to overcome with that legacy, the little he has done thus far seems HUGE. Just the fact that he won the election seems huge to me. We all know no one person can turn the tide of a government overnight. But if his vision of Peace starts spreading, as it appears to be doing, then I congratulate the Committee that chose him…believing in a vision that WILL gain momentum and WILL change the tide for the world stage. If we can get Americans to stop holding him back, I do think the sky is the limit!

    Thanks for drawing attention to this prize. Your dear wife and I are on the same page!

  18. No doubt this was a surprice – which also gives hope and a preassure to deliver.

  19. Hi,
    it is really nice post related to Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Peace Prize to Barack is really nice article on this topic……keep it up this nice sharing.

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