When the Nobel Peace prize was offered to rookie US president Barack Obama this past week, I just about lost it. I rarely go on facebook, but that morning I went on and vented my spleen to all six or seven of my online friends all of whom know and share my political views anyway. As I typed, all I could see was the videos I've seen about the suffering people of Gaza; all I could see was the protesters shot in the streets of Tehran. How much peace, exactly, has Barack Obama created?
The award has been given in recognition of the US president's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." In other words, for good intentions. Ah, good intentions...just the sound of that phrase makes me purr. Too bad such intentions pave the proverbial road to Hell. I'm sure Obama wants peace, just like he wants health care, fiscal regulations, and all sorts of good things. Will he get them? It remains to be seen.
Nobody seems especially happy with the prize, including--in all fairness--the winner. Obama, far from a fool, was reportedly less than thrilled to hear of the honour. Acknowledging the award publicly, he called it "a call to action" while diplomatically noting that he was "surprised" to receive it.
If only he'd had the guts to refuse it.
Almost a year ago, Obama got elected on the basis of an "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" campaign. As a slogan, 'Yes, we can' was, if anything, more vapid than Coke's call to arms. At lease Coca Cola promised the world a frosty and refreshing beverage: so far, Obama hasn't offered anything more substantial to the war-plagued than pleas for 'brotherhood' or 'justice'. Not Nobel Peace, but 'noble pleas'.
So, peace. Peace. Peace.
Who has more peace in their lives, who is sleeping better at night, thanks to Obama's presidency? Maybe Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who has learned he can still count on America's unflinching support as his country continues to oppress the people of Palestine. Maybe Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who must have had a couple of sleepless nights this summer as the Iranian people threatened to revolt. But that's about it.
I supported Obama's bid for the presidency last year and watched his election with real hope in my heart. I still try to find some hope for him, even as he begins to look like another Jimmy Carter: good on paper, not so good in reality. Even as I lose hope for his presidency, I still believe Obama means well. But meaning well won't create peace.
And good intentions and stirring speeches shouldn't form the basis for the awarding of a Nobel Peace prize.