Premature Honor

Last week, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, a pensive and deeply humbled Obama said, “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize, men and women who inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.” Well, I agree. Barack Obama is a very influential person. He has changed the average American’s perspective on our government with his charisma and unprecedented ideas. He has eased racial tensions and provided a new face for America. His crusade for affordable healthcare, his attempts to control nuclear warfare and his commitment to bipartisanship are certainly admirable. Nonetheless, these accomplishments, however commendable, do not merit a Nobel Peace Prize. A man who has been in office for only nine months simply does not deserve a prize of this magnitude. I heartily agree that Obama’s influence is far-reaching and that he has inspired change in international leaders’ responses to the policies of the United States. But the Nobel Peace Prize is about action, not amorphous influence. To deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, Obama must cause great change in international peacemaking with his actions, negotiations and policies. He just has not done that as of yet. Previous Peace Prize winners like Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. used their influence has well as their actions to cause real change locally and globally. Compared to them, President Obama has not had enough time to change his intentions into actions. The Nobel Peace Prize is supposed to congratulate actions that promote peace, not efforts. In Obama’s case, the prize feels more like a prayer to keep a fledgling presidency from becoming ineffective. Let’s face the reality: Obama is a sign of real change in American policy. Therefore, we must wonder if this Nobel Peace Prize is a commendation of Obama’s accomplishments or simply a rejection of the policies of our former president, George W. Bush. Obama has spent most of his time making proposals and starting negotiations. That is all very well. With the country reeling from the recession and the healthcare and education systems in shambles, no one can deny that Obama carries the load of an unfortunate time in our history. With all the problems facing our country, we should not criticize Obama’s presidency just yet. After all, he has only been in office for nine months. And that is precisely my point; he has only had nine months. Obama is not Superman. Though he has certainly made an international impact with his intentions and his ideas, his actions have not lived up to the standards set by the former winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe next year, Mr. President. Thea Raymond-Sidel is a two-year Lower from Iowa City, IA.