I find the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama rather perplexing, given the short list of actual accomplishments with which it could be justified. He has spoken about nuclear disarmament and a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, as well as of reaching out to states like Iran and North Korea, but he hasn’t really produced a concrete achievement of a scale that justifies the prize. Indeed, he is apparently mulling a major increase in America’s military presence in Afghanistan.
One unlikely but interesting possibility that sprung to mind is a parallel with the Yes, Minister episode: “The Middle Class Rip Off.” When the civil servants want to stop Jim Hacker from selling an art gallery in order to save a financially troubled football team, they appoint him cabinet minister for the arts. Afterward, it is too embarrassing for him to go through with his original plan. There may be the slightest possibility that the Nobel people were trying to avert a war with Iran by a similar means, as tensions there continue to ratchet.
Even if Obama’s credentials for the prize seem a bit scanty now, there is some hope that it will drive him to achieve more in the remaining years of his presidency. In particular, I hope it renews the energy of this administration where it comes to driving climate change legislation through Congress, as well as building a strong consensus for action at Copenhagen. After all, in the long run climate change is a massive threat to international peace and security.