Why Obama won the No­bel Peace Prize

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The No­bel Peace Prize, al­ready de­val­ued, has sunk to a new low. This as­sess­ment has noth­ing to do with one’s es­ti­ma­tion of this year’s re­cip­i­ent, Pres­i­dent Obama. Most of those on the left, with a few pre­dictable ex­cep­tions such as the New York Times, re­gard giv­ing the pres­i­dent the award as be­lit­tling him and the prize.

How did this hap­pen? What was the Oslo Com­mit­tee’s mo­tive?

They may be moral id­iots, but they are not stupid: I be­lieve that they had two clear aims.

One is to un­der­cut Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism — the no­tion that Amer­ica has a su­pe­rior moral value sys­tem to that of the “world” (specif­i­cally the United Na­tions and the Euro­pean Union) and Amer­ica’s will­ing to use its unique power, alone when nec­es­sary, in ac­cor­dance with that value sys­tem. The other is to pro­mote an es­sen­tially paci­fist agenda.

Here is the en­tire an­nounce­ment of the No­bel Peace Prize com­mit­tee:

1. “The Nor­we­gian No­bel Com­mit­tee has de­cided that the No­bel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama for his ex­traor­di­nary ef­forts to strengthen in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween peo­ples.”

Mean­ing: No more Lone Ranger Amer­ica.

2. “The Com­mit­tee has at- tached spe­cial im­por­tance to Obama’s vi­sion of and work for a world without nu­clear weapons.”

Mean­ing: The No­bel Com­mit­tee wants no coun­try to pos­sess nu­clear weapons. That an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent shares this dream and is work­ing to achieve it ex­cites the No­bel Com­mit­tee — and the world’s left gen­er­ally — be­yond words.

Many peo­ple around the world — not just Amer­i­cans — would char­ac­ter­ize a world in which Amer­ica and all other de­cent coun­tries had no nu­clear weapons not as a dream, but as a night­mare. But for the naive left-wing (a re­dun­dant phrase: If one is not naive about evil, one is not on the left) mem­bers of the No­bel Com­mit­tee, the prospect of en­cour­ag­ing an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to dis­man­tle his coun­try’s nu­clear arse­nal was too tempt­ing to al­low to pass — even at the price of ap­pear­ing fool­ish.

3. “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.”

Mean­ing: To the in­ter­na­tional left, as em­bod­ied by the five mem­bers of the No­bel Prize Com­mit­tee, the United Na­tions is the bea­con of hope for mankind.

To many Amer­i­cans and oth­ers, how­ever, the United Na- tions is re­garded as a moral waste­land that re­wards some of world’s cru­elest regimes with seats on its Hu­man Rights Com­mit­tee, does noth­ing to pre­vent geno­cides (some would way say the U.N. ac­tu­ally abets them), hon­or­ing tyrants, and mired in cor­rup­tion.

4. “Di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions are pre­ferred as in­stru­ments for re­solv­ing even the most dif­fi­cult in­ter­na­tional con­flicts.”

Mean­ing: As the paci­fist bumper sticker puts it: “War is not the an­swer.”

Oslo’s ap­proach echoes what the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment un­der Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain be­lieved vis a vis Adolf Hitler. But had Hitler been con­fronted in­stead of “di­a­logued” with, per­haps tens of mil­lions of in­no­cent men and women’s lives would have been spared and the Holo­caust averted. Euro­peans tend to be­lieve that evil regimes will act re­spon­si­bly be­cause of di­a­logue, not threats of force.

5. “The vi­sion of a world free from nu­clear arms has pow­er­fully stim­u­lated dis­ar­ma­ment and arms con­trol ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Mean­ing: We be­lieve that a world in which no coun­try pos­sesses nu­clear weapons will be a safer world. We be­lieve that even though the tech­nol­ogy to make nu­clear weapons will still ex­ist, no ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, nor any other bad peo­ple, will make such weapons.

The ex­is­tence and de­ter­rent power of nu­clear weapons have prob­a­bly saved as many lives as have an­tibi­otics. As David Von Drehle writes in this week’s Time Mag­a­zine, “If the No­bel com­mit­tee wants some­day to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end in­dus­trial-scale war, they will award a peace prize to the bomb.”

6. “Thanks to Obama’s ini­tia­tive, the USA is now play­ing a more constructive role in meet­ing the great cli­matic chal­lenges the world is con­fronting.”

Mean­ing: To our de­light, un­like the pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent, this one be­lieves in global warm­ing and in chang­ing the Amer­i­can econ­omy to com­bat it.

The “cli­mate change” scare has be­come the most ef­fec­tive ve­hi­cle for com­pelling a trans­for­ma­tion of West­ern economies along the lines that left-wing en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have urged for decades.

7. “Democ­racy and hu­man rights are to be strength­ened.”

This, un­for­tu­nately, has no mean­ing; it is non­sense. Un­der Barack Obama, the United States has not been the friend of democrats around the world. Amer­ica has re­sponded weakly to the demo­cratic move­ment in Iran, ended the fund­ing of the largest pro-Ira­nian hu­man rights groups in Amer­ica, pres­sured demo­cratic Is­rael, made over­tures to Hugo Chavez while deny­ing Amer­i­can ally and pro-demo­cratic Colom­bia a free trade agree­ment, aban­doned Hon­duran anti-Chavez democrats, and has ob­se­quiously de­ferred to Vladimir Putin.

8. “Only very rarely has a per­son to the same ex­tent as Obama cap­tured the world’s at­ten­tion and given its peo­ple hope for a bet­ter fu­ture.”

Mean­ing: Only very rarely does the Euro­pean left have such a kin­dred spirit in the Amer­i­can pres­i­dency.

9. “His diplo­macy is founded in the con­cept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the ba­sis of val­ues and at­ti­tudes that are shared by the ma­jor­ity of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.”

Mean­ing: With Mr. Obama, we in Europe fi­nally have an op­por­tu­nity to end Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism.

The Oslo com­mit­tee’s view is, trag­i­cally, true. Thanks to Barack Obama, Amer­ica is for the first time is align­ing its val­ues with those of “the ma­jor­ity of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.” If you think the world’s pop­u­la­tion has had bet­ter val­ues than Amer­ica, that it has made so­ci­eties that are more open, free, and tol­er­ant than Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, and that it has fought for oth­ers’ lib­erty more than Amer­ica has, you should be de­lighted.

Den­nis Prager is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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