As predicted, the reaction to President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize has been all over the map. Here is an excellent opinion piece appearing in today's Daily Record that sums up my thoughts exactly.
Obama recognized for what he's trying to do
By DeWAYNE WICKHAM
It should have come as no surprise that Barack Obama was especially deferential in acknowledging receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
"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," he said Friday in a hurried appearance before the White House press corps and a national television audience.
"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," the president said.
His humble response is understandable.
So, too, at first blush, is the criticism of those who question what Obama did to earn such a high honor. After all, he was just a freshly-minted president, only 11 days in office, when the nomination deadline for this year's prize closed. If the Norwegian Nobel Committee had adhered to its selection rules, its pick of Obama wouldn't pass the laugh test. But the people who manage the committee's affairs wisely decided to look beyond the Feb. 1 filing deadline to find this year's winner.
In the eight months since he moved into the Oval Office, Obama has tried to make the world a more peaceful place than the one he inherited. He stepped up U.S. efforts to keep North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He's pushed to empty out the cells of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. And he's tried to convince the Muslim world and leaders of African nations that American hegemony in those regions is a thing of the past.
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition," Obama said in a June speech in Cairo.
A month later in Ghana, the president told that country's parliament: "America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation — the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny.
"Obama's critics have dismissed all of this as just talk. They say his words have not been produced many results - not yet, at least.
Obama clearly is being cited for what he is trying to do. And that's as it should be.
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel said the Peace Prize he endowed should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.
"The Nobel Committee appears to have acted in accord with his wishes when it announced it was giving Obama its Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
"That's a fitting recognition of the tireless work Obama has done to make this world a better place.