In 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama. In the words of the committee, it was given “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Very few expected this to be awarded to man not even a year into his presidency.
According to CNN, what was most surprising was that “nominations for the prize had to be postmarked by Feb. 1, only 12 days after Obama took office.”
Even the president himself stated that he was “surprised and deeply humbled” for receiving so prestigious an award, and that he would use the prize as a “call to action” for what he would do in the remainder of his presidency.
Looking back, though, Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize seems premature, even faulty. With only a year and a few months left in his presidency, it’s time for Obama to live up to his Nobel Peace Prize and show some of the promise that the Norwegian Nobel Committee saw in his first weeks of office.
At the beginning of his presidency, Obama began promoting the ideas of peace when he started calling for the removal of all troops in Iraq, seeming to promote peace even though he did decide to keep 50,000 active personnel in Iraq to help the Iraqi army. Those forces are scheduled to leave by Dec. 31 of this year.
If Obama keeps his promise, this would show his dedication to a more peaceful world. Along with that, Obama also signed a 2010 treaty with Russia named the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that called for a specific decrease of certain nuclear arsenals in each of the countries.
While these actions did promote a more peaceful world, Obama’s other foreign actions have not reflected the same commitment to peace. His invasion of Pakistan to find Osama Bin Laden, while commendable, did cause quite a stir and sent the message that the U.S. does not care about the borders of sovereign nations when it comes to achieving our goals.
Along with his invasions, the surge of troops in Afghanistan from 2009 is still there, and while the President stated that he is interested in removing troops, the process is slow and lacks the finality of his earlier speeches for removing troops from Iraq.
What happened to the president that seemed to promise a more peaceful world? The United States didn’t become more peaceful; it just moved its war efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan and Libya instead.
Obama’s ideas for peace in the holy land did seem promising though. In his first 2009 speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama discussed the importance of statehood for Palestine as a path toward peace.
By allowing Palestine to be a state recognized by all nations, peace would be realized, and the states of Israel and Palestine could discuss a peaceful resolution as equals. But in 2011, in a radical reversal of policy, Obama adamantly blocked the Palestinian bid for statehood, resulting in a frustrated Palestinian government.
Though Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize like other famous American Presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter, his original ideals for peace have changed over the last three years.
Instead of a pro-peace president, we have a president whose policies are committed to neither the hawk nor the dove, but moves between the two seemingly at random. Hopefully, Obama will decide on a foreign policy in his final year that favors peace instead of war so he can live up to his Nobel Prize and actually be a consistent foreign policy leader.