NOBEL ANNOUNCEMENT…. President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize seems to be driving international discussion quite a bit this morning, and for good reason. It’s a startling development.
I was struck by something Josh Marshall wrote.
[T]he unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration.
For all the recognition of George W. Bush’s unpopularity, it’s easy to overlook the ways in which the international community was truly mortified by the U.S. leadership during the Bush era. The irreplaceable leading nation could no longer be trusted to do the right thing — on use of force, torture, rule of law, international cooperation, democratic norms, even climate change. We’d reached a point at which much of the world was poised to simply give up on America’s role as a global leader.
And, love him or hate him, President Obama changed this. I doubt anyone on the Nobel committee would admit it, but the Peace Prize is, to a certain extent, an implicit “thank you” to the United States for reclaiming its rightful place on the global stage.
It’s indicative of a degree of relief. Much of the world has wanted America to take the lead again, and they’re rightly encouraged to see the U.S. president stepping up in the ways they hoped he would. It’s hard to overstate the significance, for example, of seeing a U.S. president chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and making strides on a nuclear deal.
This is not to say Obama was honored simply because he’s not Bush. The president really has committed himself to promoting counter-proliferation, reversing policies on torture, embracing a new approach to international engagement, and recommitting the U.S. to the Middle East peace process. But charting a new course for American leadership, breaking with the recent past, no doubt played a role.
As outraged as American conservatives are this morning, notice the international reactions. Praise was not universal, but Mohamed Elbaradei, for example, said, “I cannot think of anyone today more deserving of this honor. In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself.” Mandela, Tutu, and Gorbachev, among others, also praised the announcement.
The most angry international responses came from Hamas and the Taliban.
The president is scheduled to speak from the Rose Garden at 10:30 (eastern) and is expected to comment on the award.