Wild card

The award of the Nobel Prize for Peace for US President Barack Obama was ironically like a bomb shell that surprised the entire world. The prize is intended to be awarded to individuals or organisations who have notable achievements to their credit in bringing about peace and have thus enhanced the quality of human life. Obama has been in office for just over eight months and has not had time to make any lasting impact on world affairs. His nomination for the prize was actually within a few days of his assumption of office as President, because the last date for nominations was February 1. The Nobel Committee in its citation has said that the prize was for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples’’ and for his work on climate change issues and disarmament. But these are all efforts which have still to bear fruit.

In his few months in office Obama has launched initiatives which make a departure from George Bush’s confrontationist policies. He has made it clear that his guiding idea will be reconciliation, and has sent out friendly signals to the Islamic world, South America, Cuba and others with whom the US had hostile or uncomfortable relations. He has also softened the US posture in West Asia. But the US is still fighting wars in Iran and Afghanistan. It may even increase its engagement in Afghanistan. It seems the Nobel Committee has based its decision on Obama’s words and hopes and expectations about him in the US and the world. This puts the award in a new light, as it honours a person for what he plans to do rather than for what he has done.

The Nobel Committee was perhaps influenced by the idea of Obama as it was projected, evolved through his campaign and was understood by the world. It had some romance and rhetoric built into it, but has started fraying. The committee could have waited for Obama to realise that idea through his actions at least partially before rushing to honour him. Obama’s own remark that he did not feel that he deserved the prize has more truth in it than humility. The award also casts on him a fresh responsibility to live an image, which in the case of a head of state can prove to be a burden and a constraint. On the positive side, it can be a source of inspiration for him.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry