Sophia Nelson is a contributor to theroot.com, NPR, and Huffington Post. She blogs at Politicalintersectionblog.com.
It seems that the President’s diplomatic efforts have hit a snag and once again raises questions about his winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was rebuffed by Russia and now China with respect to sanctioning Iran should they continue to build nuclear weapons.
As a lifelong Republican I voted for candidate Barack Obama. And on most issues I am supportive of President Obama. As an American, I’m proud that he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but to be honest, awarding him this honor only nine months into his new Presidency is a bit like giving the Heisman Trophy to the freshman quarterback at a Big 10 school who has just started his first season of play.
In other words, it would never happen.
Even the President would agree that winning this Nobel Prize at such an early stage of his administration, with all of the turmoil presently going on in the world (i.e., North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran) is something he would not have welcomed had he been asked his opinion by the Nobel committee. The President said as much when he spoke in the Rose Garden last Friday.
If you look at his body language, President Obama was clearly not comfortable with winning such an august prize, but he was between a proverbial rock and a hard place and had no choice but to graciously accept the award. The challenge as I see it, however, is that the world views President Obama as something of a “breath of fresh air” that has swept across the globe and will somehow be transformative of some of the old struggles and hatreds that plague both great and small nations alike. While we can all agree that it is good for our new President to be viewed as a diplomat and as someone who wants to repair the “breach” between nations, he has only been on the job nine months and when he was nominated for the award he had only been President of the United States less than ten days.
More importantly, the award committee said that the President was given the award, “For his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” Unfortunately, when one closely examines the Nobel selection criteria and look at the fact that it has only been nine months since he has taken office, there seems to be a problem. Not to mention, the prize is customarily awarded for the past efforts and not the future potential of the candidates.
In the final analysis, my concern is that President Obama is increasingly being viewed as some kind of magician who can make all the world’s ills go away. He is not and he cannot. This prize comes at a time when the President faces a monumental decision to send more troops into Afghanistan and deal with the pending nuclear threat from Iran. Neither of these two challenges presents the President with a “peaceful” means of resolving the problems in Iran and Afghanistan. No matter what he does, he is going to disappoint someone on the diplomatic front.In hindsight, the Nobel Committee will eventually realize that they put this young President in a very difficult position by forcing him to live up to his role as a peacemaker, perhaps, at the expense of his constitutional role as Commander in Chief of the United States of America.
None of these challenges presents the President with a “peaceful” means of resolving the problems in Iran and Afghanistan. No matter what he does, he is going to disappoint someone on the diplomatic front. In hindsight, the Nobel Committee will eventually realize that they put this young President in a very difficult position by forcing him to live up to his role as a peacemaker, perhaps, at the expense of his constitutional role as Commander in Chief of the United States of America.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sophia Nelson. Check out actress Sheryl Lee Ralph’s commentary for a completely different point of view.