Barack Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

A surprise announcement from Oslo: Less than nine months into his administration, US President Barack Obama wins the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. Your thoughts?

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18 Responses to “Barack Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize”


  1. 1 Chong Tak Shing John 09/10/2009 at 6:20 pm

    It’s quite surprise to me when I read the news about Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. In my idea, the Prize has not been given for a politician who has green experience on promoting world peace. What I remember that is Obama attended two G20 summits in April and two weeks before.

    Giving the Prize to Obama lets me think of giving a political incentive to him as a encouragement to make his promise be true. The image of US under George Bush was deteriorated as especially when he used excuses to fight on Iraq in 2003. Obama, during the presidential election, promised his fellow citizens the US would not so aggressive just like a bull on the international stage. After being elected, he has used the ‘soft’ power diplomacy that relationships between US and other countries have been gone away from freezing stage. Actual improvements of diplomatic relationship, however, have been found few.

    After all, it’s glad for Obama to win the Prize. I hope he can make his promise true that US can perform properly in international relations.

  2. 2 Irene Yeung 09/10/2009 at 6:28 pm

    The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the legendary first African- American President can be seen as rather unexpected. The Norweigan Nobel Committee praised him for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and advocating diplomacy founded “in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s popluation.”

    However, having only been in office for less than 10 months, his ambitions for strengthened international institutions and a nuclear weapon free world are visions yet to be achieved require complex processes of cooperation and compromise among various stakeholders, there is bound to be quite a large amount of criticism against Obama’s unexpecting winning – by what most would see as – just stating one’s aspirations of bringing peace to the world without actually achieving something.

    And on a more moderate point, we could perceive the awarding of the Peace Prize to President Obama as a gesture of the Committe supporting his vision and giving out encouragment for his intentions.

  3. 3 Johannes Feldhege 09/10/2009 at 6:44 pm

    Wow! I guess nobody expected that to happen!

    My first reaction to this piece of news: this seems early, maybe premature. I can of course understand that it is supposed to show “encouragement” and “inspiration”, as mentioned in the article, however the Nobel prizes have never been about encouragement for the future. They have always honoured people for their work in certain fields. Work they have already done, goals they have achieved, discoveries they have made. It is always about the past. You would not give the Nobel Prize in Biology to a geneticist for the research he is carrying out at the moment. You do it after their research has been finalized, studied by the scientific community, applied in real world applications, proven to be world-changing…. Only then you might be deemed worthy of it. Nobel Prizes are not given out to the dead, that is why there is always debate and criticism for the Nobel Committee, as a lot of people feel it is acting too slowly. Critics feel people that they deem worthy of the prize but died before they could receive it, were cheated by the Nobel Committee.
    So why give the Prize out to a politician who is still in office? Why not wait till time can judge Obamas actions? The article mentions “hope for the future” and “values and attitudes” that he has and tries to share with the people. These things are nice and everything, but shouldn’t he be judged on his actions, his work, his achievements? It is too early to judge these.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama is very worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. But not right now. Also, at the moment I can base my judgements only on his performance so far and campaign promises for future actions. What happens if the healthcare reform ultimately fails? if he can’t carry the country out of recession? I think the decision by the Nobel Committee is premature.

  4. 4 Lily Yip 09/10/2009 at 9:34 pm

    I agree with John. The award feels more like an incentive rather than actual recognition to the efforts he has been making.

    Just hope this incentive would encourage his enough to actually commit USA to compromise to less than 2c increase in global temperature in the upcoming Climate Change conference in Dec.

  5. 5 Kaspar Tjeldflaat Steudel 09/10/2009 at 10:00 pm

    I can’t say that I can agree with Nobels Comitie decision of giving Obama the Peace price. The reasons for giving him the peace price are all founded on his visions and his proposed policies. His visions and policies have yet to prove themselves as fruitful. The concept of giving a person a peace price that hasn’t actually managed to fulfill a huge peace related policy is absurd and contradicting.

    Obama is also the head off state in a country that is currently involved in two major wars. Obama has also expressed a willing to escalate the United States Presence in Afghanistan with 40 000 more troops. Although the military presence is a heritage from the previous administration, it hardly seems fair to give a peace price to a person who is willing to escalate a war, even though he is not the cause of it. I could agree with the comities decision if Obama managed to implement his peace promoting policies, although I have serious doubt that this will ever happen. This act will in my opinion reduce the Nobel Peace Prizes credibility.

  6. 6 Triston Xun Cui 10/10/2009 at 12:02 am

    I cannot describe how surprise I am when I hear the news this afternoon. It seems that everyone was shocked by the news. During these nine months in governance, except for promoting the idea of nuclear disarmament, it seems Obama has not done any substantial contribution to the world peace. Therefore, to me it is no wonder why his own reaction to get the award is “surprised and deeply humbled”.
    Seven months in governance is for too soon to get a clear picture on Obama’s foreign policy and his attitude towards Iran, North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. When asked why the prize had been awarded to Mr Obama less than a year after he took office, quoted from BBC news, Nobel Committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said: “It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve” and it is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done”. However, this reason is far from enough to justify the decision to give this very important award to Obama, what if later Obama decide to invade some countries like Iran, it may put Nobel Prize in huge embarrassment.
    To conclude, this decision for me is more like a flattery to show Nobel Committee’s personal preference and an encouragement for Obama’s intentions to promote peace rather than a reward for his achievement or even a fair choice, many candidates are more qualified than Obama to get this prize .

  7. 7 Winkie Fung Wai Yin 10/10/2009 at 12:05 am

    Same here, I am shocked!

    Perhaps the prize is given with political reasons: to stop Obama from provoking wars in Middle East. Well, if this is the case, it will be a pity for such a honorable award being manipulated by politicans to play tricks. What if Obama finally fails to perform peace in the time of presidency? That will be an interesting question…

    Right now the news reminds me of Mother Teresa who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. What a great contrast!

  8. 8 Ma On Ki 10/10/2009 at 1:00 am

    The first thought of mine after knowing the news is – the Committee is using the award to Obama to show its discontent to the former US president, Bush. Obama, though failed to remove all the troops in the warzones, unlike Bush, he appears to show the world that, USA is not the conqueror, but the helper or facilitator of the world. He is trying his best to open up conversation with other countries. He appears to be a friendly president. As the image or personality of the US president would influence the world greatly, even with little achievements, the big contrast with the former president who appears to be aggressive and not compromising, is enough for the Committee to choose him as the prize receiver.

    On the other hand, the Committee might also like to use this prize as the means to constraint the act of Obama as being a Nobel Peace Prize receiver, it isn’t a good idea to intervene in other nations’ affairs vigorous like Bush.

  9. 9 Lau Siu Fai 10/10/2009 at 6:05 pm

    Nobel Peace Prize is sometimes politically-motivated, such like there will be a lot of nominations for Chinese political dissidents. I view this event as a show of rejection against the past 8-year Bush’s unilateral diplomacy.

    Like many people, I was surprised and even felt ridiculous when first hearing the news. Especially this year, Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to Charles Kao, a highly-praised HK educator who’s widely perceived as too late to receive this honor. This seems to disgrace a bit his award.

    Doubts immediately flow to my mind: “What has Obama actually accomplished?” and “What put him in the company of Gorbachev, who ended the cold war, and Mandela, who ended the ethnical segregation?”

    I think the criticism from Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee is quite fair:-
    “It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.”

    But I must admire him as a great speech deliver, whom contented me a bit after hearing his remark. Here I shared some of its extracts:-

    “… I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

    To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

    But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

    These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions…”

    My final remark: It is true that vision is important to a political leader, but history will not value charisma and speeches as achievement. President Obama needs to face multi-front challenges, domestically for his healthcare reform package, and internationally for threats from N. Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East etc. I am really sorry I am pessimistic to his success.

    P.S. for full version of Obama’s remark, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Winning-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize/

  10. 10 fong chung lauren 10/10/2009 at 7:44 pm

    Isn’t it mysterious that Obama finds himself does not deserve the Nobel, yet his staff submitted the application to the Nobel Committee 12 days after him taking the office? Although the Nobel is supposed to honor achievements, the 89th Nobel Prize for Peace is obviously an encouragement rather than recognition (or perhaps an expression of gratitude for an end of the Bush Administration). How peaceful it is for Obama to send 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan this year? Is this the most peaceful solution that worth the Nobel? Guantanamo Bay is still operating, Wall Street is unpunished (and i doubt if its currently under proper regulation).

    My concern is the implication for politicizing everything including the Nobel. How just it is for those many other transformative figures who have done so much, yet received no recognition? Nevertheless, since chances are the Committee will not change their decision, the only thing can do now is to hope the Nobel can provide sufficient incentive for Obama to strengthen his commitment to bring justice. Power comes responsibility, wish he can walk the talk rather than the other way around.

  11. 11 Lau Wai Lun William 11/10/2009 at 1:57 pm

    I think this nobel prize was only a result of politics. I agree with Miachel Binyon from Times of london that it was only a way of expressing european gratitude for an end to the bush administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that washington will honor its promise to re- engage with the world.

    Although we should appreciate that obama has brought about a lot of plans for changes, however, the prize seems to be substantially immature, and presented at a wrong time.

  12. 12 LI Yanbei, Amber 11/10/2009 at 4:12 pm

    This piece of news shocked me but after that, I relieved. It is just another evidence of how Mr. President’s personality help him to win the world. His recent diplomatic show does work. Many ppl question whether what he has done to the world peace deserves this prize. It is not a wise excuse to say “well we encourage the winner to achieve his vision”. It is not rational for the world to continue the obssesion for some super leader instead of memorizing those who sacrafice their life for promoting world peace. In front of us, are the financial crisis, potential nuclear proliferation,climate changes,war against terrorists and border clash…These are not the things that can be resolved by someone alone. Therefore, the Nobel Peace Prize shouldn’t simply be regarded as just a reward, a recognition. For most ppl in the world, it is an inspiration to encourage ppl to make contribution to our world community. So, instead of blaming the Nobel Prize Committee, we just need to understand the meaning behind the prize.

  13. 13 Chow Chui Yin, Kuma 11/10/2009 at 6:50 pm

    I don’t think he deserves it. Whether the award should go to award dreams, aspirations or work performances and record…I’m leaving that debate alone for the time being.

    But I honestly think Obama doesn’t perform so well proposing dreams nor is he doing well realising dreams. He doesn’t even have a time table for promoting gay people’s rights, he sets no concrete agenda to resolve Israeli and Palestianian conflicts. He is still head of state in a country that’s in war, he hasn’t yet put an end to it. He is not signing the USA in the Kyoto Protocol. For minorities in the US, are there any laws passed for better lives to Hispanics, Blacks etc. as work of his? And under his governemnt, the Wallstreet is still not quite punished. I don’t know, where and how is he really inspiring us and if he is sufficiently telling us what to do? Has he identified all the harms to peace in the world and proposed real, concrete, working solutions? Even as a dreamer, is he dreaming big enough? Just yesterday his public speaking over some gay rights has disppointed the gay community in the US (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/us/politics/11speech.html?hp)

    And the Times magazine announced in its October issue it’s bought a house in Detroit to report on the city that represents the demise of US manufacting business which casts doubts over US economy’s future. Even Times is raising the question like where the US economy is going, after the auto industry went down. The biggest economy in the world is so unstable and that really matters to the global economy and lives of many people in many other countries, is Obama having any insight to set the record striaght for the quickest recovery of US economy and planning any necessary reforms in the financial structure etc.?

    I just personally don’t think he is like THAT inspiring for world peace. I see him as a vessel of power who has the political power to control many rights and peace issues’ destinies.

    Is it just to hand him the award given there are so many people out there who aspires the right thing and has done the right work? Is it just to hand him the award just because he is world famous and has huge political power and not hand the award to the lesser known and yet still influential, peace seeking individuals who better deserve and need more of that 1.4 million USD award?

    Some say the award will be an incentive for Obama to work to achieve the goal of peace. But for those who have been chasing after peace in jail, in poverty…there ain’t no interest in award or money and they’re still chasing after it. Those who want peace and have the insights and ways to pursue that will do so, those who only have words but lack the real willingness to chase after peace will not do any good for peace just because you give him an award.

    If you say giving the award is recognising what Obama is dreaming about and the policies he is pursuing, then I say, I don’t know what he is dreaming about, there are no concrete efforts of his to show me his ideologies and there are no clear agenda of his to allow me to see how he wants to pursue such goals. He dreams a lot, but I don’t know what he is dreaming about, if I was a hispanic, environmentalist, gay, family of a soldier, and whose future is tied to the US economy, I don’t feel at peace all that much.

    Take back his award, give it to him when the job is done. Or else I just won’t take this nobel prize like that seriously anymore.

  14. 14 Chan King Fai, Tommy 11/10/2009 at 10:40 pm

    I agree with some of the above comments that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, to a certain extent, showed how the world, or at least the committee members, dissatisfied with the Bush’s administration,e specially for the wars he started towards Iraq and Afghanistan. I consider this award has given Obama pressure that he must keep his promote to promote peace, in particular in the Middle East.

    It’s a good time for him to show that he has not just given ’empty’ promise, but to do something to achieve what he promised so that he really deserves this award. I believe everyone in the international community will observe his acts.

  15. 15 Andy Yu Kar Ming 11/10/2009 at 11:57 pm

    At the time when Obama is being criticized for having empty promise in the US Presidential election held earlier this year and his approval rating is declining, the awarding of the Peace Nobel Prize to him has significant impact. Though the Committee has reaffirmed their decision by saying words like “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,”, they essentially are encouraging him to stick with his prior promises and his comparatively peaceful diplomacy in his terms of years. This incident on the one hand, makes use of the media and international pressure to bind him following his directions; on the other hand, has allowed space for Obama himself to reflect on his accomplishment ever since his appointment of the presidency. I don’t think I am qualified enough to assess his performance in job. I am just saying that he should do some self-evaluation, both positive and negative, in order to clear his mind to further fulfill his people’s hope for a better future. After all, both his internal public policy and diplomatic policy are quite different from his predecessor G. W. Bush and such action is conducive and essential to make himself “in the company” of past Peace Prize winners.

  16. 16 Lee Kin Ka Anne 14/10/2009 at 4:44 pm

    Obama, as the president of US, receiving the award of the Nobel Peace Prize might has a significant implication on the global peacekeeping agenda in the future. First of all, it is both a recognition and an encourage for Obama’s foreigh policies from the Nobel Committee. It implies peacekeeping will be among the highest prorities of the US, and while the US is one of the most powerful nation in the world, its foreign policies will have tremendous influence upon the whole world.

    Just as stated by the spokesman of the Nobel Committee, the US president surely is the most attention catching figure in the global diplomatic scenario, and what the US does would affect the other countries to a great extent. I think it is a plausible strategic move for the Nobel Committee to choose Obama for the purpose of encourging peacekeeping, although a committee made up of only 5 persons may not be representative enough.

  17. 17 Chan Horace Ho Laam 14/10/2009 at 5:42 pm

    The Nobel Prize has a history of making strange decisions, most particularly in the field of science where a proportion of recipients were only honoured for their work after a full 30-40 years after their initial publication (Charles Kao is an example this year). Yet I think few has been as sensational as Obama’s win this year.
    There is no doubt about Obama’s ambitions as he attempts to solve the thorny issues in current international affaris: stopping the Gaza conflict, pushing forward nuclear proliferation and uniting world leaders against climate change. There is also no doubt about his efforts to rebuild America’s popularity and image by decreasing troop numbers in Afghanistan and removing missile bases in Eastern Europe etc. His actions so far has been commendable, and the chorus of congratulations and praises on his award by other world leaders serves as testament to it. It also serves as an reminder of the immense charm he possess, which I believe has played a big part in influencing the decisions of the Norwegian committee.
    Obama has kept his promise and shown great initiative making friends in the international arena, but he has made no concrete achievements yet. An award should be given to recognise those who have toiled long and hard to fight for their causes – even if the cause had not been achieved yet (eg Aung San Suu Kyi) and henceforth other individuals seem to be more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Obama. Nine months is still too short of a time to be considered, and hearing that his nomination came only after a mere 11 days since he took office, I wonder if this accolade really is an encouragement for him, or just really another token of Obama worship.

  18. 18 James H.T. Lam 15/10/2009 at 1:04 am

    I think the critics these days think that the Nobel Prize is rather to encourage Obama, in his setting the foreign policy of the US, more to think about interests of the other nations but rather solely on US, as his predecessors.

    A Nobel Prize might have positive impact on US, and for US to drop her right-wing, unilateralism.

    Anyway, I agree that Obama is also keen on pushing world’s peace, emphasizing denuclearization and others. But the results of his efforts/ initiatives are yet to be seen.


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