CNN Comment: Obama’s ‘Unclenched Fist’ Won the Prize

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obama un pic.jpg
Below follows the lead from a piece I just wrote for CNN on Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. An interesting tidbit that I learned from a TWN reader — though I’m not sure it’s accurate — is that Nobel Prize nominations were due by February 1st — thus just nine days after Barack Obama’s Inauguration.
Even if true, the Nobel Prize committee chose shrewdly in my view.
Here is the intro to my CNN comment:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Cynics will say that Oslo was jealous that Copenhagen, Denmark, scored a visit from President Obama, and giving him a Nobel was the only way to get him to Norway.
But the Nobel Committee’s decision to make Obama the only sitting U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson to receive the Nobel Peace Prize shows the committee’s clear-headed assessment that Obama’s “unclenched fist” approach to dealing with the world’s most thuggish leaders has had a constructive, systemic impact on the world’s expectations of itself.
Obama has helped citizens all around the world — including in the United States — to want a world beyond the mess we have today in the Middle East and South Asia. They want a world where America is benign and positive, and where other leaders help in supporting the struggles of their people for better lives rather than securing themselves through crude power.
Obama has found a way in this interconnected world of cell phones, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking to reach a majority of the world’s citizens with his message of hope for a better world. He speaks past the dictators to regular people and has, on the whole, raised global political expectations about everything from climate change to nuclear nonproliferation in ways that no one in history has done before.

Here is the entire piece.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

67 comments on “CNN Comment: Obama’s ‘Unclenched Fist’ Won the Prize

  1. yoyo says:

    Today, I went to beach with my kids. I found a shell and gave it to my 4-year-old daughter, said: “You can hear the sea, if you give it to your ears. “She put her ear and screaming shell. A hermit crab, it pinched the inside of her ears. She did not want to go back! LOL I know this is completely off topic, but I had to tell someone!

    Reply

  2. ... says:

    nadine – speaking of truth with regard to history.. you might find this interesting – Shlomo Sand’s ‘The Invention of the Jewish People,’ reviewed by Jack Ross
    http://mondoweiss.net/2009/10/shlomo-sands-the-invention-of-the-jewish-people-reviewed-by-jack-ross.html

    Reply

  3. rc says:

    On 10 December 1973 Heinz Alfred Kissinger was awarded the same Nobel peace prize. He accepted in “humility” (Wikipedia) in spite of his evil works under Nixon in Cambodia, Vietnam and across Latin America – notably Allene’s Chile.
    This ‘prize’ ceased having any real meaning for me then, and this latest gamble in influencing the future deeds of a ‘man-of-words’ has not changed my opinion. Sure, it gives him additional public authority but given the state of Iraq and Afghanistan they might as well have awarded him the gong for Climate Change. He’s said he’ll do as much …
    Now what exactly does “unclench” a fist mean? The relaxed hand of a black belt martial arts killer?
    All the best to him if he does it, but he now belongs to a strange club some of whom are clearly destined for Hell. Not being of the younger generations, who seem to hold special faith in Barak Obama’s powers, I still heard the echos of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Mr X once pointed out the distinctions between House and Field: I’m still pondering the possibility that my cynicism will be unjustified, however, I can see the image in my mind of Obama and Kissinger at the same table drinking the house white (or red perhaps), and discussing the way forward to ‘victory’ through a “… policy of Vietnamization [Afghanistanization] that aimed to gradually withdraw US troops while expanding the combat role of the enabling South Vietnamese [Afghan] Army …” (Wikipedia).
    Oh, BTW, Heinz also rejected the money — or tried to — something to do with blood and pieces of silver?
    I’m watching the show, but not buying the ticket just yet … more interested in what Turkey is doing with Armenia and Israeli policy.

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  4. nadine says:

    I’ll take that as a ‘yes’, it was just fine for the Guardian to lie about the identities of past Nobel Peace Prize winners.
    I was just looking for a statement of principle as to whether it is important to seek the truth when relating history, either recent or in the distant past, or if it’s fine to tell lies to promote your own agenda.
    Thanks for making your point of view quite clear.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    something to get worked up about, no doubt… if you got a bit worked up over covering up the goldstone report i’d be shocked… but lets talk about who got left off this list… very important shit nadine… i knew i could count on you for taking a strong stand where it really matters…

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  6. nadine says:

    …, The list of winners of previous Nobel Peace Prizes is a matter of public record, not opinion.
    Was it right for the Guardian to lie about it, yes or no?

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  7. ... says:

    stealing a trick from somewhere else no doubt…. lets all just put our blind faith in fox news and the like….
    nadine will rest easier knowing that…
    the bonus is if fox and etc help lie the usa into another war… there are lies and falsehoods, and then their are lies and falsehoods….interesting to note what nadine views as a real serious affront…

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  8. nadine says:

    An interesting sidenote: When it published the announcement of Obama’s Nobel Prize, The Guardian published the list of all previous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize — and left off the names of the three Israeli Prime Ministers who had won (Begin, Peres, and Rabin). They listed the 1980 and 1994 prizes as going to Sadat and Arafat alone.
    After an outcry, they put the names back online – but ran no correction.
    Even twenty years ago, I don’t think any professional journalist who wasn’t working for Pravda would have pulled a stunt like that. Professional standards would have prevented it. But The Guardian obviously believes that the end justifies the lies, professional standards be damned.

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  9. nadine says:

    Wigwag, I know McCain would not have been your ideal president. But you are listing his campaign positions. My point is that looking at his voting record and his strong bipartisan instincts (McCain is one of the few pols for whom bipartisanship is not just lip service), on every point he would have wound up governing well to the left of his stated positions, so that I don’t think you would have found him so bad. Water under the bridge at this point.
    You were asking about Norwegian opinion on the Nobel Peace Prize. I picked this up from Powerline Blog:
    “Not Buying It, Even In Norway
    October 10, 2009 Posted by John at 10:53 AM
    Reader Alan Macomber writes:
    Got curious about how the media in Norway is playing the Nobel Peace Prize decision (I read/write Norwegian fluently), so I check out the Aftenposten (largest daily) this morning. Found one of those opinion poll widgets on their site- vote on if you think the prize to Obama was correct. 62% of Aftenposten’s own Norwegian readers voted not vs 37% who voted yes. Just thought you’d be interested in how it plays out over there. Swedish dailies are pretty much skewing this as a stupid joke the Norwegians have created (to be expected…Swedes love to laugh at dumb stuff their next door neighbors do). ”

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “So many people who comment at the Washington Note have the juvenile need to villainize those they disagree with; I don’t”
    Don’t forget, Wiggie, you just gave this blog a true glimpse of what you are REALLY made of. You might want to wait awhile before you make a bigger ass out of yourself than you already have.

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    kotz – ‘ostriches’ – you are an expert on that!

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  12. kotzabasis says:

    WigWag
    Don’t be surprised that Norheim and Kervick are not seeing the “extraordinary scorn on the right and left,” as both of them are preparing themselves for their second life of Pythagorean metempsychosis as ‘ostriches’ burying their heads into the sand to avoid the brightness of reality.

    Reply

  13. WigWag says:

    I would not have been happy with John McCain as President, Nadine.
    I believe women have a right to choose an abortion and that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided; McCain would have appointed Supreme Court Justices intent on overturning a woman’s right to choose.
    I am against public funding of religious schools and against school vouchers; McCain supports both.
    I believe in reasonable gun control measures; McCain doesn’t.
    I believe that health insurance reform that provides universal coverage and a strong public option is in the national interest; McCain disagrees.
    I think “don’t ask don’t tell” should be overturned and that gay Americans should be allowed to serve in the military without any form of discrimination; McCain feels otherwise.
    I support progressive taxation and would like to see an increase in marginal rates on those making more than $250 thousand per year; that’s not McCain’s point of view.
    I could go on and on.
    I think Obama has proven to be ineffective; but I am quite sure that from my perspective, McCain would have been worse.
    By the way, that doesn’t mean I think McCain is a bad person or a war criminal or a deranged monster.
    So many people who comment at the Washington Note have the juvenile need to villainize those they disagree with; I don’t.
    I just didn’t want McCain to be President.
    I still don’t.

    Reply

  14. nadine says:

    Wigwag, you probably would have liked McCain as president more than McCain as a candidate. As candidate he was forced to pretend he was a conservative, when his whole career he fought Republicans with much more relish than Democrats. McCain’s hero is Teddy Roosevelt, he’s really pretty progressive, though his foreign policy would probably have been too hawkish for you. But conservatives were gagging at the thought of having to vote for McCain (they were no happier with the choice than you were) and there was little enthusiasm in the GOP for McCain’s candidacy until Palin joined. Despite the drubbing she took in the media, who abandoned their last shreds of objectivity to savage her, she was an asset to McCain in rousing the base. You can’t even come close unless your base likes you, and before the economy collapsed McCain was running neck to neck because of Palin I think.

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  15. nadine says:

    Paul,
    There is a zero-sum power game between national sovereignty and rule by transnational institutions. Even when nations sign treaties, they lessen their sovereign powers by doing so; but presumably they agreed to do for some perceived mutual benefit. The new transnational organizations that are being created, such as the ICC, go way, way beyond treaties or trade organizations straight into universal jurisdiction — whether you sign up for them or not, a fact which these organizations now consider insignificant.
    If the ICC has supreme jurisdiction over the conduct of the US Army, then the President and the Supreme Court no longer have it. It’s that simple. It’s so simple that I don’t believe your indignation is anything more than an attempt at intellectual bullying of ideas you consider improper. Won’t work with me.

    Reply

  16. WigWag says:

    “I guess you regret your choice now, don`t you?” (Paul Norheim)
    No, there really was no choice from my perspective. I don’t regret my vote but I do regret having to make the choice that I did. And I still believe that at least so far, everything I said about Obama’s incompetence, his lack of experience and his lack of character has proven to be accurate.
    Obama still has plenty of time to right his ship. But despite what your Norwegian colleagues on the jury think, so far Obama is a failure and if he doesn’t turn things around he is headed towards a failed presidency.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Well WigWag,
    you saw right through the optics during the election, didn`t you?
    Studying the political substance and characters of John McCain and Sarah
    Palin, you were in serious doubt right until the last days, as far as I
    remember. But I also seem to remember that you said that you voted for
    “the optics”. I guess you regret your choice now, don`t you?

    Reply

  18. Clint says:

    The Nobel Committee surely knows that Obama has not accomplished anything worthy of this prize – nor has he signaled any huge changes toward more humanitarian policies.
    I’m certain that, with big decisions looming on Afghanistan and climate change, the committee wanted to motivate Obama to pursue policies that will help people – instead of just corporations.
    We’ll see if they succeed.

    Reply

  19. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    first a correction: it was actually 8.30 PM here when I wrote my last post; I was
    interrupted while writing it by a long phone call.
    Now I`ve seen the evening news here. Torbjørn Jagland chose to defend his
    “controversial” decision today – controversial in Norway as well. Some voices on the
    right accuse him of having a double role: being a newly appointed Secretary General of
    the Council of Europe as well as the leader of the Nobel Committee. (this is of course
    also part of the usual national political game between the factions; the Labor Party,
    in a coalition with the Socialists and a center-oriented party, just won the election
    here.) Many here think the Nobel decision was premature. Still, there is a week long
    autumn vacation in parts of the country right now, and I would guess that if the
    Norwegian soul should feel some embarrassment, this will not occur before mid or late
    next week. (BTW: The international reactions are frequently reported in the news
    here).
    I`ll keep you updated. Right now, life seems to be quite normal here in Bergen. No
    visible signs of embarrassment while I was shopping and visiting my old father earlier
    today. I doubt that ordinary Norwegians know much more about Obama than I know about
    Jay-Z.
    PS:
    I`ll read your last post later, Now I`m gonna watch Jon Stewart on CNN.

    Reply

  20. WigWag says:

    Paul, I was showing one of my neighbors who just got a computer how to use the internet. She has never visited a blog before so I showed her how to get to the Washington Note.
    When she was scanning the comments she told me that I owe you and the Norwegian Peace Prize jury an apology.
    She mentioned something to me that on reflection is obvious but I hadn’t thought of.
    Tens of millions of American Democrats voted for Obama despite the fact that he was clearly unqualified for the job; they were more concerned with optics than accomplishments too.
    In light of this I have to admit that it’s rather hypocritical of me to criticize a few deluded Norwegian judges for being star-struck when the same thing happened to the entire American media and to tens of millions of Americans.
    It’s not Norwegians or the Norwegian judges who should feel silly; it’s all the dumb Americans who gave Obama the biggest prize of all.
    With best regards.

    Reply

  21. Paul Norheim says:

    WIGWAG: To Paul Norheim and Dan Kervick,
    I think you are mistaken in suggesting that the Peace Prize for Obama hasn’t been met
    with extraordinary scorn on the right and the left.”
    PAUL: WigWag, I don`t think I`ve addressed this issue so far in my comments. I think
    I`ve alluded to the fact that most of the Norwegians were actually sleeping during the
    hours when many of the negative and positive reactions from America were expressed. 6
    PM in Washington is midnight in Oslo. Right now, it`s 7.30 PM here.
    WIGWAG: You are being unrealistic if you fail to acknowledge that the jury, operating
    from a narrow ideological perspective, has discredited itself and has discredited the
    Peace Prize.
    PAUL: Again, maybe you haven`t read my comments? … quoted one of my first ones, 14 or
    15 comments above this one. An excerpt:
    “Three or seven years from now – who knows?
    But picking him due to his promises, his speeches and his charisma was foolish. As
    far as I am concerned, they could just as well have picked Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey,
    Pamela Anderson or Paul McCartney.
    They are gambling with the prestige of the Nobel Price.”
    Yes, they are gambling with the Peace Prize. But you have to be a prophet to claim that
    they have “discredited” it. 7 years from now, history may prove your claim, or regard
    Jagland and his group as the true prophets. We`ll see…
    WIGWAG: The judges have humiliated themselves in the eyes not only of right wing kooks
    but also in the eyes of large numbers of relatively decent and ordinary people.
    PAUL: Aren`t you getting a bit emotional here? Other “relatively decent and ordinary
    people” may see these judges with different eyes. You may read my post just above this
    one to see my view on this.
    WIGWAG: Of course, giving Obama the Peace Prize plays right into the hands of his
    enemies…
    PAUL: You, of all people, should not be worried about that. You may also say that some
    of the over the top reactions from certain well known enemies may expose their
    fanaticism and petty tactics more than hurting Obama.
    WIGWAG: The most damning criticism of Obama (and frankly the most accurate) is that
    he’s about optics not action and that while he’s good with words he doesn’t know how to
    produce results.
    PAUL: He`s been a POTUS for less than nine months. As for results, your judgements are
    not less premature than the choice of him as the winner of the Nobel Price. But who
    cares? As many regular readers of TWN remember, you made up your mind about him long
    before he was elected.
    WIGWAG: I’m just wondering whether there is a similar sense of scandal throughout
    Norway. If there isn’t, isn’t it reasonable to ask why not?
    PAUL: Wigwag, even your gleeful expectations of embarrassment in the national soul of
    our small country is premature. So far, I`ve only spoken to one of my brothers, who
    lives in my neighborhood. We both laughed a bit, and he said that this reminded him a
    bit of how Jagland did a mistake picking a certain minister while he was the PM of
    Norway in the 1990. He agreed with me that this was premature, but he was just as
    relaxed as me. We don`t regard our nationality as an essential part of our identity,
    and don`t get too excited when Norwegians win in the Olympics, or too embarrassed when
    they make unwise choices in politics or as members of the Nobel Peace Price Committee.

    Reply

  22. paul Norheim says:

    “The Nobel is good for those who ridicule him, and it is good for THOSE
    who have expectations to him. The net outcome of all this is hard to predict.”

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    …,
    nothing wrong with being a bit optimistic!
    I still think that giving him the Nobel was premature. However, I also agree with some
    of Dan Kervick`s and Steve Clemons` remarks. Encouraging Obama`s position on nuclear
    non-proliferation may in the long run also lead to more focus even on the Israeli
    arsenal – although there are reasons for caution here. I don`t know, but in
    geopolitical terms, Washington may regards Israel as a some sort of semi-autonomous
    (and a bit unruly) US state, and thus their nuclear bombs as a “secret” part of the
    huge American arsenal, securing some kind of US hegemony in the Middle East. Until the
    oil wells are empty, I doubt that they will commit to any efforts of abandoning this
    arsenal. (The absurdity of all this, is that by merely threatening to mention the
    existence of the Israeli nuclear weapons, Washington could have a considerable
    influence on Israeli policy. Regarded as a part of the US arsenal, however, it is in
    the interest of Washington not to ever mention it. This is a position that may be
    difficult do maintain in the coming years.)
    But Obama has certainly created a geopolitical climate change compared to the Bush-
    Rumsfeld era, and we`ve also seen some promising initiatives from his administration.
    On the other hand, as a war president, he seems to do exactly as he promised: moving
    troops from the second front to the first front in the GWOT. In addition, he`s given
    the whole enterprise a more obscure and euphemistic acronym that nobody (me included)
    seem to remember.
    As to the impact of the Nobel Prize, to some extent I still regard Obama as a blank
    page, charged with a lot of contradicting symbols, depending on your positions and what
    you read into this blank page. He represents so many different things to so many
    different people and factions, both internationally and domestically; and during the 32
    hours since the announcement, all these different interpretations of him that we`ve
    learned to know during his campaign and in the months of his presidency, reoccur in
    enhanced form. The Nobel is good for those who ridicule him, and it is good for them
    who have expectations to him. The net outcome of all this is hard to predict.

    Reply

  24. WigWag says:

    To Paul Norheim and Dan Kervick,
    I think you are mistaken in suggesting that the Peace Prize for Obama hasn’t been met with extraordinary scorn on the right and the left.
    Yes, it’s true that there is a certain segment of society that would object to Obama winning the award no matter what he had accomplished. This is the same group that ridiculed awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore.
    But the objections go way beyond this group. Let me ask a simple question; when was the last time that the awarding of the peace prize resulted in such vehement objections not only from right wing kooks but from people from every political perspective?
    Whatever anyone thinks of the peace prizes awarded to Arafat, Rabin or Kissinger, the disgust registered from people from all political perspectives to those decisions, is far less than the disgust to which many are reacting to the award to Obama.
    In fact, I can’t remember a time when the awarding of the Peace Prize resulted in such wide spread derision. The only thing I can think to compare it to is the gymnastics or figure skating competitions in the Olympics where the judges are notorious for awarding gold medals not based on the quality of the athlete’s performance but on political factors.
    Yes, many world leaders (and I am sure many citizens throughout the globe) think giving the Peace Prize to Obama was a fine decision; but the fact that so many people, including Obama supporters, think the award was absurd, speaks volumes.
    You are being unrealistic if you fail to acknowledge that the jury, operating from a narrow ideological perspective, has discredited itself and has discredited the Peace Prize.
    The judges have humiliated themselves in the eyes not only of right wing kooks but also in the eyes of large numbers of relatively decent and ordinary people.
    Of course, giving Obama the Peace Prize plays right into the hands of his enemies and of people who just don’t think he’s up to the job. The most damning criticism of Obama (and frankly the most accurate) is that he’s about optics not action and that while he’s good with words he doesn’t know how to produce results. The Norwegian Peace Prize jury has basically vindicated that critique.
    Obviously that doesn’t mean all Norwegians are to blame for the decision of a tiny jury made up of Norwegians.
    But it wouldn’t surprise me if Norwegians considered this to be a national embarrassment. After all, a few years back, when French figure skating judges were caught giving outrageous scores not based on the quality of the competitor’s performance, all of France was scandalized.
    I’m just wondering whether there is a similar sense of scandal throughout Norway.
    If there isn’t, isn’t it reasonable to ask why not?

    Reply

  25. ... says:

    paul 732am – me too!
    i guess i am one of those misguided optimists too..
    obama also got rid of the stupid idea of a missile sheild.. that counts for something also.. while i agree he hasn’t done a lot in a ‘hard’ sense, he has changed the tone and done a few things… he is such a radical departure from bush/cheney war 24/7 rhetoric that i would give him a prize if i could.. so i thank the norwegians for doing so… i also thank the norwegians for getting under the skin of so many die hard ‘negativists’, a few who show up here regularly too…
    now go ahead…. continue to shit on this and everything else that looks different then what you are used to…

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing. It seems these poor misguided optimists like Kervick are going to ignore the fact that “nuclear non-proliferation” in the Middle East can NEVER become a reality while Israel maintains its arsenal, refuses to join the NPT, refuses to allow inspections, and constantly threatens its neighbors.
    Obama, by maintaining the status quo on America’s stance towards Israel’s nuclear arsenal, has shown his nuclear non-proliferation “efforts” as being as toothless as his settlement stance was. With Obama, its all posturing and bluster, with no real substance or conviction. To see reasonably intelligent and informed people like Kervick hoodwinked by such bullshit posturing is indeed disheartening, as it demonstrates just how easily the uninformed masses can be conned by this charlatan.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    Ruth Marcus, last night on “The News Hour”. Truly disgusting. She out Brooks’d Brooks. However, the two indiviual who were interviewed in the news section (Brezinski, and Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations) were eminently sensible in their analysis. (do I hear certain heads exploding). Actually, I was surprised that they didn’t include some flak from AEI or the like, but I guess they assigned that role to Marcus.

    Reply

  28. Bart says:

    In the grand scheme of human events the Daily and Colbert shows will have scant affect.
    Nadine: If Ruth Marcus is a liberal, I am Donald Duck.

    Reply

  29. jonst says:

    This is really priceless. I am really enjoying this. Whine on Wig-Wag, Nadine, whine on!
    I hope he gives part of the award money to ACORN.
    Oh, and Nadine, this was really amusing, and so earnest even: “Ruth Marcus of the WaPo and Peter Beinart of TNR” was against giving Obama the award.
    Trust me folks, there is a lot of American history contained in that one little word, “even”. In the neocons mind the Ruth Marcus’ and Peter Beinarts’of the world represent the Left. And much of the media thinks the same thing. And that is how they sold the Iraq War to the American people.

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    I`m fascinated by the imagination of American right wing fear mongers. Which facts or
    realities motivate such paranoid arguments? Does perhaps the fact that John Kerry (and
    Bush senior) speak French increase the danger of Americans taking orders from a Euro
    Elite? Which current dictators have a “good standing” in the international community
    right now? Kim Yong Il? The Junta in Myanmar? Some African dictators? Or could you
    perhaps rather say that although most Americans like their national sovereignty, they
    sometimes let their leaders “take orders” from certain elites in Tel Aviv?
    I`m not asking Nadine. Her “opinions” are just echoes of the propaganda heard across
    the extreme right wing political spectrum. Reading this kind of stuff is like getting a
    glimpse into a tent, where some obscure, charlatanic, religious sect leader con his
    audience with some homespun apocalyptic visions designed to make them give him their
    money.

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    “There is a certain strain of Democratic coward that has never gotten over the trauma and persecutions of the McCarthy era, and who is afraid to acknowledge internationalist and pacificationist ideals publicly”
    Dan, it isn’t remembered persecutions by Joe McCarthy that has them cringing. It is the thought of the drubbing they will take in the next election, unless their seat happens to be in some ultra-liberal bastion like Vermont or San Francisco. Most Americans across the political spectrum like the American Constitution and national sovereignty. They do not see why they should take orders from a Euro elite or the various dictators who are members in good standing of “the international community.”

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    “Norheim should have better insight into this than any of us.”
    WigWag, It`s still morning in Norway, and I haven`t talked to any Norwegians for the last 12
    hours, to find out whether they/we are “embarrassed” or not. Let me come back to this question
    later today.
    I can however assure you that informed Norwegians know exactly the different motives behind the
    criticism and ridicule from a wide range of persons and organizations – from Fox News, Limbaugh
    and the neocons, to the Taliban, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. And at least one Norwegian knows
    exactly why WigWag and Nadine ridicule the choice, and why Tahoe Editor`s cut&paste machine is
    working nonstop right now.
    Many on the left here think it`s undeserved due to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan
    (just like people on the left in America); others think this was premature, and then there are a
    lot of Norwegians who are enthusiastic about the choice, just like in America.

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    Dan, the choice may not be getting universal disapproval, but it is getting wide disapproval, including from some very Obama-friendly quarters. For instance the AP White House correspondent, Jennifer Loven, a reporter I consider so deep in the tank for Obama that she has been breathing through scuba gear for the last two years, wrote a piece that started out “He won? For what?”
    Truly, I don’t think those dopes in Norway did him any favors. I’ll leave the last word to Barry Rubin, who worries that this award will give Obama the idea that his diplomatic career so far has been a success, when it has been anything but:
    “It’s sort of like giving the Nobel Prize for chemistry to a scientist who hasn’t discovered anything but seems like a nice person and is, after all, trying to cure cancer. So we support what he is “trying to achieve.”
    But what if he is trying to achieve it badly, What if he is trying to achieve it in a way such that he is destined to fail and make things worse? By this standard British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain deserved the Nobel Peace Prize of 1938 for his efforts to achieve peace. [Chamberlain even got his version of the “Grand Alliance” signed – nadine] That’s why Nobel Prizes—and sometimes presidencies—are given to people who have already done something. They have proven an ability to do so. …
    But yes that’s the measure of the world today: If you envision something then that makes it true. If you tell a smug elite what it wants to hear, not only do they applaud but they report in all their media that everyone else applauded also.”
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  34. Dan Kervick says:

    “Now that the decision to honor President Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize has been almost universally lambasted …”
    That is, to put it charitably, an exaggeration WigWag. Sarkozy, Ban Ki-Moon, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Hatoyama and Merkel all expressed warm approval.
    Very vigorous approval has also come from those on the front lines of the non-proliferation effort: for example, Joe Cirincioni of Ploughshares, Richard Burt on behalf of Global Zero and former Peace Prize winner Muhammad El-Baradei.
    Baradei said Obama “has done in nine months what many people would take a generation to do…For the first time, everybody has hope that we might be able to establish a world at peace with itself, that we might be able to have a system of security that is not based on nuclear weapons.”
    Of course, I understand that you don’t like some of these people.
    Internationalists and non-proliferation supporters are generally happy about the award. The pro-nuke crowd doesn’t like it. Neither do the jingoists and anti-internationalists. The usual cast of Europhobes on the right and center-left don’t like it, and they are getting some help from some of those Democrats who still have a daddy complex about Republican hawks, and who cringe, crouch and get into the circular firing squad whenever the wingers start badgering them for their suspect internationalism. There is a certain strain of Democratic coward that has never gotten over the trauma and persecutions of the McCarthy era, and who is afraid to acknowledge internationalist and pacificationist ideals publicly. If some social democratic Scandinavians are for something, you can bet these lackeys are going to look for any excuse they can find to side with Republicans in being against it.
    But most Democrats these days have gotten over those old fears, and their kneejerk feeling that the Republicans are always right on security. That old Democratic fetal crouch was responsible for their failure to put forward common sense opposition on the Iraq debate. But the Bayh-Lieberman style of Democrat is a dying breed.
    A substantial portion of those people expressing disapproval of this prize are motivated by their fierce dislike and suspicion of the things Obama already has done and the course he has plotted, and are hiding behind the “he hasn’t done anything” line because they are afraid to foreground their actual position in public. The witless Michael Steele is an example of this sort. But so are the camp of Middle East hawks in the Democratic Party who are desperately trying to torpedo any progress on diplomacy with Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who wish to keep the US invested in permanent war against the Muslim world, and who attempt to advance their agenda through duplicitous concern trolling.

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  35. ... says:

    Posted by Paul Norheim, Oct 09 2009, 8:08AM – Link
    As the only Norwegian citizen commenting regularly at the Washington Note, I would like
    to offer my comment.
    First: Congratulations Chicago! Congratulations Hawaii! Congratulations Kenya!
    Congratulations America!
    When that is said, I have to admit that I`m surprised. In my view this was a premature
    choice. The Nobel Price is intended as a reward and encouragement for actual
    achievements, not as a tool rewarding the lofty promises of a politician.
    Three or seven years from now – who knows?
    But picking him due to his promises, his speeches and his charisma was foolish. As
    far as I am concerned, they could just as well have picked Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey,
    Pamela Anderson or Paul McCartney.
    They are gambling with the prestige of the Nobel Price.

    Reply

  36. WigWag says:

    Oh, I don’t know; it seems to me that Obama’s selection has been roundly criticized from the left, right and center. Neocons have criticized it; liberal internationalists have criticized it; realists have criticized it. Comedians have criticized it and well-respected pundits have criticized it. While some in Europe may like the choice, Arab and Israeli newspapers alike report that the award to Obama has been met with derision on the part of some Middle East players (e.g. Hamas) and indifference on the part of others (some like Mubarak and King of Abdullah have complimented the choice).
    Has there been a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to either an American or a non-American that has ever been viewed with as much skepticism as this one is getting in the United States? Perhaps alot of Americans objected to the Nobel Peace Prize going to Kissinger or to Rabin and Arafat, but I don’t remember there being stir about those awards as there has been about this one.
    Given that Norway is a small country that I bet takes its role in selecting the peace prize winner very seriously, it seems perfectly reasonable to question whether Norwegians are embarrassed about the choice.
    Norheim should have better insight into this than any of us.
    It seems like a perfectly appropriate question to me.

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  37. ... says:

    Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1973

    Reply

  38. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…is this an embarrassment just for the Norwegian jurists who selected Obama, or is it a major embarrassment for all of Norway?”
    Your kind of vindictive ignorance is a blight on mankind. Thats gotta be one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever read. Get back under your rock, you despicable wretch.

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  39. ... says:

    giving out a peace prize is nothing to be embarrassed about especially when compared to the usa which is always making war on others or threatening to do so… perhaps the usa is so used to this mindset it has gone beyond embarrassment… knowing no shame comes to mind…

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  40. WigWag says:

    So I guess the question to Paul Norheim that we have to respectfully pose is this;
    Now that the decision to honor President Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize has been almost universally lambasted, and with commentators from Stephen Walt to Rush Limbaugh calling the choice absurd, is this an embarrassment just for the Norwegian jurists who selected Obama, or is it a major embarrassment for all of Norway?

    Reply

  41. Outraged American says:

    There should be a People’s Choice Award for Congressional
    Sleazeball of the Year. I nominate every congressperson I’ve ever
    had.
    Harman, Waxman, Sherman, Berman, Kyl, Shadegg, McCain,
    Boxer, Feinstein — to figure out which one out of only these is
    the worst sleazeball would give the nation a headache, but a
    needed headache.
    And it could be kind of fun — we could make them all wear
    tutus and dance on hot coals as their fingernails were pulled out
    and we forced them to reveal how much they got from the
    military/ “terrorism”/ industrial complex / Israel lobby to send
    our kids to die in far off lands.
    Then we could force “our” Congresspeople to read the Bill of
    Rights as we waterboarded them and told them that Dick Cheney
    was waiting in the next room to cut out their throats and we’d
    sharpened his fangs so that they were even bigger than they
    used to be back when he was only preying on completely
    innocent Halliburton mercenaries.
    We could use the last 25 cents in our bank account to call in and
    vote for who is America’s Top Congressional Sleazeball.
    And then Paula Abdul would start crying for the loser and
    whoever is stalking her currently would shoot the winner. But it
    would probably be a hopeless tie so with any luck they’d bring
    lots of ammo.

    Reply

  42. kotzabasis says:

    The “unclenched fist” of Obama to “thuggish leaders” will be the most short-lived infatuation and delusion of all those incandescent romantics, including the Nobel Committee, who have taken a long sabbatical from the reality of the world.

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  43. Joe Lemaire says:

    But, why give the Peace Prize to a man that has actually DONE nothing, but has only made gestures and proclamations of hope? This is laughably idiotic and cheapens the awarding of the prize.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I mostly keep my own counsel on foreign policy matters, and I especially don’t rely much on the Washington Post and TNR for instruction. And you might want to develop a more nuanced view of the many varieties of Democrats. Beinart, in particular, is someone whose priorities have proven to be very different than those of a lot of Democrats. My impression is that he is still laboring in purgatory for his eager support of the Iraq War, which he followed up with a call in 2004 for a purge of the Democrats’ peacenik left wing.

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  45. KurtH says:

    It continues to amaze me that people somehow support this. Woodrow Wilson tried to guide us through one of the most complex times in our history. President Obama has done nothing more than make a few speeches. He has so far been all talk and no deeds. And this is not an accusation, his mind has been busy with other issues. Might Obama someday do the deeds that he has talked about? I hope he does and when he does them we can talk about giving him an award for it. Look at it another way. Most Nobel winners wait Decades to be recognized and Obama was awarded for talking about doing something.
    The excuses that people make are nothing short of pure snake oil. A con so massive and so smothered in self service and ulterior motives that they deserve an award themselves. An Oscar perhaps for the” Best Sleaze ball of the Year”

    Reply

  46. Dan Kervick says:

    Sarcasium, good for you in working with the Ploughshares Fund. Ploughshares Joe Ciricione had one of the most aware pieces of commentary I’ve seen today. It’s available at their website.

    Reply

  47. nadine says:

    Dan, even liberal commentators like Ruth Marcus of the WaPo and Peter Beinart of TNR are calling this prize a farce. It is never good for a President of the United States to be seen as a willing participant in a farce. If the comics get a hold of big ego/no accomplishments/lots of hype theme, it will resonate — and stick.

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  48. nadine says:

    Which Israeli leader would qualify for the Peace Prize? Is there one? I’m just asking. . .
    Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat jointly won the Peace Prize after the Oslo accords, so it happened already.
    So CNN thinks the “unclenched fist” won the award? Boy, talk isn’t cheap when it comes from Obama! It’s worth a million bucks (1.4 million to be more precise). Nobody needs to wait around for pesky results once The One has spoken.
    Nuclear disarmament, that’s the ticket. The world will be soooo much safer once only Russia, Iran and North Korea have the bomb.
    Mickey Kaus’ instant reaction was that Obama should decline the prize, on the grounds that he hasn’t yet accomplished what he means to do. I agree with Mickey that this would have shown a humility and self-awareness that is disturbingly lacking in Obama’s persona…but of course Obama did no such thing.
    It really would be more accurate if they renamed the prize “The NOT George W. Bush Prize for Peace, to be won by whatever politician is the most opposite in word and policy to George W. Bush.”

    Reply

  49. ... says:

    sidetracked by a phone call…
    dan kervick and dons – i agree the issue of nuclear non proliferation is a key to understanding all of this..
    however, i am concerned like wigwag with the focus on ‘optics’ over substance and have said so many times… my feeling is obama is being given a nice break here and it’s very helpful… however he has to continue to move the usa in a direction away from the direction it has been going in for a very long time… so far he has made no concrete headway.. it is just some progress in the optic dept…
    this is what won him the election and this apparently is what has won him this nobel prize… lets hope – lol, their is that word again – it is more then just empty hope and false dreams of something better and instead backed up with substance…

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don’t think that Steve focused enough on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, which was clearly highlighted by the Nobel Prize Committee. Obama wants progress in non-proliferation to be his legacy. He has set that agenda in motion.”
    You mean like his stance on the Israeli nuclear arsenal??
    What planet do you live on, Dan, because it sure as hell ain’t the same one that mankind resides on.
    http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/02/president-obama-has-reaffirmed-a-4-decade-old-secr/?feat=home_top5_shared
    President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.
    The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

    Reply

  51. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Still torturing. Still not indicting torturers. Still manipulating the facts to demonize a Muslim country. Still ignoring known perjuries before Congress. Stood mute while Israel dumped white phosphorous, in copious amounts, on a defenseless civilian population, and now seeks to bury the report outlining these egregious war crimes. Still spying on American citizens. Still hiding the evidence and photos of horrendous acts of torture committed by representatives of the United States of America. Still the world’s largest wholesaler of arms, land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, artillary, tanks, bombs and warplanes.
    And this empty suit gets the Peace Prize? How many people are going to die this year at Obama’s behest? How many more Palestinians will be slaughtered, imprisoned, starved, dehumanized, and dispossesed of their land only to see the United States of America send Israel billions more in aid, arms, and loans? How many Pakistani and Afghan families will never see or hear the missile that erases their existence?
    This makes a mockery of this prize. The Nobel Peace Prize has just been drastically devalued. Right alongside our dollar and our credibility.

    Reply

  52. ... says:

    Posted by Zathras, Oct 09 2009, 5:58PM – Link
    “Just a reminder here that what President Obama called for was for regimes like those in North Korea and Iran to unclench their fists. It’s no fault of Obama’s that they haven’t done that yet, but let’s not muddy the metaphorical waters.”
    you forgot one zathras – israel is always displaying a clenched fist, with the usa always looking the other way when it does…

    Reply

  53. Dan Kervick says:

    More original thinking from the cut and paste mind of Tahoe Editor.

    Reply

  54. brigid says:

    When our president gets dissed from the left and the right, as evidenced here, he must be doing something right . I’m glad the Nobel Committee is affirming what is best about our country and disregarding the rampant malevolence and ill will on all sides. Thanks for the great statement on the value of aspirational leadership. Cynicism is a dead end.

    Reply

  55. Tahoe Editor says:

    Anne Applebaum: Don’t Take the Nobel Prizes Too Seriously
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2009/10/why_should_we_care_about_the_n.html?wprss=postpartisan
    Daniel Blumenthal: Snub the Dalai Lama, Win a Nobel
    http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/10/09/how_the_dalai_lama_earned_his_prize
    Glenn Greenwald: There are simply no meaningful “peace” accomplishment in his record, and there’s plenty of the opposite. That’s what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/10/09/obama/
    Eli Lake: Human rights groups see Obama wavering
    http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/07/rights-groups-see-obama-wavering/

    Reply

  56. Tahoe Editor says:

    Ezra Klein: Obama also awarded Nobel Prize in chemistry. “He’s just got great chemistry,” says Nobel Committee.
    Ana Marie Cox: Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.

    Reply

  57. Tahoe Editor says:

    Steve Clemons: Obama’s “Unclenched Fist” Won the Prize
    Sen. Jim Inhofe: Obama received Nobel Peace Prize for “de-emphasizing defense”

    Reply

  58. pauline says:

    Which Israeli leader would qualify for the Peace Prize? Is there one? I’m just asking. . .

    Reply

  59. dwg says:

    I’ve seen the bit about the nominations closing in February all over the blogosphere today.
    It’s true the NOMINATIONS closed in February Steve. And as you correctly point out, Obama had been in office a very short time.
    But first of all, he won the ELECTION in November – some months prior (and his transition team had been at work in the interim forumulating positions and people to implement them) not to mention that he had been on the world stage for quite a long time before that in the longer than normal election cycle.
    Secondly, the Nobel prize award process calls for the committee to take the nominees from that point FORWARD and narrow the potential choices down until they make their selection in early OCTOBER. (see also: http://nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/process.html)
    In that time, Obama rejected a useless missile shield in Eastern Europe thereby racheting tensions DOWN with Russia; engaged in bi-lateral talks with Iran; raised the U.S. profile and re-energized our mission at the U.N.; attended any number of multi-lateral summits without dropping bombs either literally or figuratively; challenged both Israelis and Palestinians to take their international legal obligations seriously… shall I continue?
    Not bad for a few months following a 8 year debacle.

    Reply

  60. Zathras says:

    Just a reminder here that what President Obama called for was for regimes like those in North Korea and Iran to unclench their fists. It’s no fault of Obama’s that they haven’t done that yet, but let’s not muddy the metaphorical waters.

    Reply

  61. jonst says:

    My God, the schadenfreude is exalting! Sweet! Rage on neocons and neoliberals, rage on!
    Gives Obama a better vantage point (even if only incrementally) to resist the agenda calling for an attack on Iran.
    Sweet poetry.

    Reply

  62. Sarcasium says:

    To Steve: Yeah, I was skeptical at first when I heard the news, but I’m warming to it. Coincidentally, your final part about ‘yes, Obama will make mistakes’ is similar to my diary entry the night Obama won the White House.
    And to Dan Kervick: I agree with your posting that Obama’s Nobel win is a way to promote nuclear non-proliferation. I have been donating to the Ploughshares Fund since last spring. I figure that rather than continue getting angry, *do something*.

    Reply

  63. DonS says:

    I liked the piece, Steve. Now to translate the optics into actions, as the man said. (and to hone some of his domestic actions with a much finer eye to civil liberties)
    And I would second Dan’s reminder of the nuclear disarmament (which is what I prefer to see happen) goal, a long overdue emphasis in a complacent world.
    Despite the uphill battle to overcome America’s slide into oblivion (and despite Wigwag’s best effort to nullify anything potentially positive, smiling all the while), I applaud any external pressure that can remind America to wake up. And that begins with Obama waking up. It may be the only chance we have.

    Reply

  64. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t think the ridicule will last. There will be a predictable round of “What could these crazy foreigners be thinking?” And there will be jokes. And the right will try to capitalize on the cheap shot humor and the puzzled responses. But folks will increasingly go out and look and listen to the world, and find out *precisely* what the foreigners are thinking. And that process will help engage more Americans in global affairs – at least those Americans who aren’t permanently locked in Beck/teabagging psychological cycles of bitterness, hatred, rage, despair and cynicism. The ultimate response will be to help unblock the ears of people who hear but don’t listen as Obama tries to engage American audiences in thinking globally about global problems.
    I don’t think that Steve focused enough on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, which was clearly highlighted by the Nobel Prize Committee. Obama wants progress in non-proliferation to be his legacy. He has set that agenda in motion. Global audiences are increasingly noticing, and are supportive. I think Americans need to wake up themselves and get with the program. I hope this prize helps propel young people into a new round of activism on nuclear non-proliferation.
    You know, I’m so tired of the usual lame concern trolling that has come up following so many recent events: concerns that something is bad because the right will say this; the right will say that. I would suggest that if people don’t want the right to win debates, then they should stop arguing the right’s side in those debates, and fight back against them instead. As the DNC smartly pointed out today, there only 20% of Americans left who aren’t too embarrassed to call themselves Republicans. Forget those all-powerful voices of the right!
    It’s obvious that the prize is an opportunity. People should build on it instead of ripping it down themselves, and then pretending that are are just giving voice to their concerns about the omnipotent right.

    Reply

  65. S Brennan says:

    Steve,
    I been reading this elsewhere…it does have the effect of making a fool of those commenters here and elsewhere who have been making elaborate justifications based on merit over celebrity.

    Reply

  66. nadine says:

    Saturday Night Live should be interesting too. Last week they skewered Obama for having accomplished “Jack” and “Squat”; and this week he gets the Nobel Peace Prize for Jack Squat. Their only problem will be how to parody something that already sounds like it was written by The Onion.

    Reply

  67. WigWag says:

    Congratulations on the CNN piece! It shows that more and more you are a “go to” guy for intelligent commnetary on world affairs. Unlike Obama, you’ve actually earned the accolades you’re getting recently.
    With that said, I couldn’t disagree more. The award is so plainly about optics instead of accomplishments that it’s sure to harm Obama politically in the United States. Watch John Stewart, Stevel Colbert, Jay Lenno and David Letterman tonight to see how they react to the award. It’s going to be wall to wall ridicule and it’s ridicule that’s richly deserved.
    Obama will emerge weaker as a result of the award and it will make it even harder for him to enact his agenda (and let’s face it, his effort to enact hs agenda wasn’t exactly going well before the announcement.)
    When style trumps substance the result is almost never good.
    It won’t be this time either.

    Reply

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