To win, you need to play

My first reaction to the news this morning aligns almost exactly with Matt Welch’s

My wife woke me with the ridiculous news that Barack Obama, who has been in office for eight months and achieved no notable peace, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Seriously, what has he done?” I asked.

The short answer is: speak. We didn’t pay much attention on this side of the pond, but Barack Obama’s speeches in Cairo and Berlin were smash hits. The guy is a star. He gives the world hope that the U.S. isn’t fucking nuts after all. This is not a small thing. But there is a huge difference between promise and delivery. Gas alone is not transportation. You gotta drive.

Obama ran (and voted) against the wars in Iran Iraq and Afghanistan. Both continue under his command. He backed off on missle installations in Poland and got warm reciprocal sounds out of the Kremlin, which is … something, I guess. He has led efforts toward peace between Israel and its neighbors, but every U.S. president since the founding of Israel has done that. Or tried. Results so far–on any of this? Nada.

I’m all for giving the guy a chance, but why hang a garland on him when the race has hardly begun?

The generous take is Andrew Sullivan’s: “I seem to be one of the few who sees this as a downpayment on a potential transformative period in world history. History alone can judge that, and history hasn’t happened yet.”

Add one more burden to those the president carries already: proving that the Nobel committe hasn’t jumped the shark. Peace of cake.


  1. Mary Hodder’s avatar

    To repeat my earlier tweet:

    . @Meryl333 If Nobel committee wanted to award a tone change, they should have given peace prize to american ppl who elected change.

  2. nolan’s avatar

    I always thought that Americans were more positive and “can do” than us Brits. Its interesting to find that when their newly elected president wins a Nobel Peace Prize so many of them turn out to be as grumpy and negative as we are. I’m not sure if this is disappointing (where did the hope go?) or heartening (misery loves company after all).

    Perhaps the prize is not for Obama but for all those US citizens who have worked hard to change the country for the better. The prize is what you now make of it. Your challenge. Your choice. Good luck. I wish you all the best.

  3. Francine hardaway’s avatar

    Bingo. I thought he should decline.

  4. Bill W’s avatar

    To your points on the war:
    1. It’s Afghanistan and Iraq, but of course you know that
    2. He didn’t vote against the wars, because he hadn’t won a federal election at the time of their declarations
    3. He has been quite clear since at least the beginning of his presidential campaign in characterizing Afghanistan as the just war, in contrast to the fool’s errand of regime change in Iraq.

  5. Bernie DeKoven’s avatar

    On the other hand, the man has risked his life every day since he first entered politics. Probably before. Considering how polarized this country still is, how difficult it is for a sometimes very hostile and armed minority to accept him as their president, Obama’s achievements to date have been profound.

  6. ghindo’s avatar

    Wars in IRAN and Afghanistan?

  7. PW’s avatar

    Uh, candidate Obama was a hawk on Afghanistan and called for troop increases.

  8. Eric T. MacKnight’s avatar

    Obama himself said all of this better than everyone else:

    First he gets blamed when the Olympic Committee doesn’t vote for Chicago. Then he gets blamed when the Nobel Committee does vote for him. ‘Sheesh’ is the mildest response possible. Too many opinions, not enough thought.

  9. Hanan Cohen’s avatar

    The 1978 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat & Menachem Begin for their success in signing a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that is kept until today.

    The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres & Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East”

  10. Dale’s avatar


    I blogged ( and tweeted (@dlature) agreement with you yesterday when I saw this post (your #wtf tag still has me chuckling)…..I saw this today, which also makes sense, and somewhat tempers my “wtf” feeling about it…..
    (Rachel Maddow on the prize)

  11. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Woops! Corrected. IraQ.

  12. hjmler’s avatar

    Maybe, given the danger of the world environment and economy going totally to hell, Obama’s potential to deflect if not stop entirely the onrushing disasters is valued as a Last Best Hope.

  13. Chip’s avatar

    Behind in reading, but finally spotted your post
    Have had a few of my own, but best to give some links

    Tom gets it this time:

    Why Europe seems to think like it does:

    Friend traveling in Cuba says his Latin American friends ask the same : “What HAS he done?”

  14. Ian Clark’s avatar

    Don’t forget also pulled the plug on Guantanamo and Torture.

    But who says the Nobel people award for deeds done?

    Consider Desmond Tutu and Aun Sung Li…

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