Friday, October 9, 2009

Eyes on the Prize

I'm somewhat puzzled by the selection of President Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize. I like the guy, I voted for him, but is he really the person who's done the most to further the cause of peace in the last year? I appreciate that his nuclear disarmament work is important, but it's still in progress -- and anyway, a lot of the progress I don't think was his doing. Iran is desperate for international legitimacy right now, and North Korea is almost certainly being strong-armed by their Chinese patrons. That leaves the Russia/missile defense fiasco, and the best that can be said there is that he undid one of Bush's dumber international moves. More to the point, the botched Afghan election was under Obama's watch, and I'm still quite unhappy not to hear him make a clearer stand on the vote-rigging allegations. What, it's not OK when it happens in Iran, but we wink at it when our puppet government does it?

There are plenty of people who could have been selected either for their work or for the symbol of the award. I think they missed a serious opportunity in not selecting Mir-Hossein Moussavi, personally, but they could also have selected Iftikhar Chaudhry (the Pakistani Chief Justice whose dismissal and campaign for reinstatement played a large role in restoring that country's democracy), Aung-San Suu Kyi (who was yet again denied release from house arrest this past year), or the Dalai Lama (who showed impressive restraint during the riots in Tibet, and it seems to me had a significant role in preventing a bloodbath). Heck, they could have picked Bill and Melinda Gates for the work of their Foundation.

It seems to me that the classiest thing Obama could do at this point would be to decline the prize and say, "Thank you, but you ain't seen nothing yet."

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