The Nobel Prize for Moral Posturing

The Nobel Prize for Moral Posturing

By Robert Tracinski - October 12, 2009

So can we all stop taking the Nobel Peace Prize seriously now?

The news announcement came over my cell phone this morning-I thought it was a joke at first, a headline from The Onion instead of the New York Times-that the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize is Barack Obama.

For what? What has Obama ever accomplished for the cause of world peace?

The Nobel Committee says that prize is "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Which Obama has accomplished by-what exactly? Giving a speech at the UN?

Are they giving Obama the prize because he is withdrawing US troops from Iraq? But that drawdown began under the previous administration and is possible only because of choices made by George Bush. Obama has merely continued the natural course of the Bush policies.

Is it because he has closed down the terrorist prison camp at Guantanamo? Well, he has promised to do so-but his own deadline has passed, and he hasn't done it yet.

Did Obama get Iran to relinquish its nuclear weapons? No, he has merely started a new round of negotiations whose main effect seems to be to give US support to Russian aid for Iran's uranium enrichment.

Has he championed the cause of "democracy"? Obama has sided with a would-be dictator against the constitution of Honduras, and he just cut off funding for an organization that helps document Iranian human rights abuses.

Has he achieved peace in Afghanistan? On the most pressing foreign policy issue of his administration-the most immediate issue of war and peace he has so far been called to decide upon-Obama hasn't even made a decision yet. But he's getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

So I guess it is a joke, after all-a joke by the Nobel committee at its own expense.

The fact that Obama hasn't actually accomplished anything isn't actually all that unprecedented. When the Nobel committee gave the prize to lifelong terrorist Yasser Arafat, they did not do so because the Oslo Accords were a great success. They did so because the accords were in trouble. Several members of the committee admitted later that their motive in giving the award was to encourage Arafat to stick with the "peace process." It didn't work, of course, and a few years later, Arafat would launch the Second Intifada, importing Iranian explosives to strap to suicide bombers and plunging the Palestinian territories into another round of chaos and bloodshed from which it has yet to emerge.

The new Nobel is also meant for the same purpose: not to reward something Obama has done, but to influence his future action. Lech Walensa--Nobel recipient in 1983 for facing down the Soviets--put it quite clearly: "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act. This is probably an encouragement for him to act."

This is an attempt by the Nobel committee to play on Obama's vanity in order to influence his decisions on Iran and Afghanistan. The message is: how could you possibly let Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities, or how could you send an additional 40,000 troops to "escalate" the war in Afghanistan-after we've just given you the Nobel Peace Prize?

In appealing to Obama's moral vanity, they know their man well-and it will probably work.

In this respect, Obama is the perfect successor to the last American president to win the Nobel: Jimmy Carter. Consider the legacy of Carter's term in office.

Carter withdrew American support for the shah in Iran, then failed to mount any effectual response to the seizure of the US embassy and its staff-all of which allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini to establish a brutal Islamist regime which has been the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, a supporter of Palestinian terrorism, civil war in Lebanon, and insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a regime that has repeatedly murdered and tortured its own citizens.

By allowing a Communist takeover in Nicaragua, Carter encouraged a legacy of socialist strongmen that is still riling Latin America to this day.

Carter's weakness in Latin America and Iran also emboldened the Soviets to invade Afghanistan, inaugurating three decades of bloody civil war and providing the proving ground for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

So Carter's legacy is three decades of chaos and killing-and the growth of three of today's biggest threats to world peace. Yet Carter is infamous for his haughty, priggish sense of moral superiority.

This is what the Nobel Peace Prize really stands for: irresponsible moral posturing in the service of the leftist delusion that appeasement will bring peace, when all it really brings is more war.

Come to think of it, that makes Barack Obama the perfect recipient.

Robert Tracinski is editor of The Tracinski Letter and a contributor to RealClearMarkets.

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