Obama award is deserved

Point/Counterpoint: Does Obama merit winning the Nobel Peace Prize?

Published On:
Monday, October 12, 2009
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The Nobel Prize is an honor and it should be treated as such. Its recipient should be honored for their contribution to society, not damned because they have not accomplished enough.

It is an award that should unite a nation and cause them to celebrate because they have made a significant contribution to the world.

Normally, it does not fuel a partisan atmosphere. Unfortunately this country seems to be the exception.

The Norwegian Nobel committee awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize this past Friday because of his work in international diplomacy. Rather than respecting this decision and celebrating this accomplishment, pundits have labeled it a political liability. It added fuel to the fire known as partisan politics.

Such an attack though does more than divide a country; it dishonors those who have received the award and calls into question the legitimacy of the Nobel committee. It is also an assault on a country’s values.

Conservatives have reasoned Obama received this honor as a result of his global stardom. This claim is not only outlandish, but an insult to those who have received the award in the past. Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. are all winners of this coveted medal. These outstanding figures in history were picked by the Norwegian Nobel committee just as Obama was.

Suggesting that a committee would award a distinguished medal due to favoritism can call past decisions into question. This does not honor the acts these incredible individuals achieved to earn such an esteemed recognition.

Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota’s governor, and possibly Obama’s competitor in the 2012 presidential election, denounced his fellow Republicans who have called the award into question.

“I think the appropriate response, or an appropriate response, is when anybody wins a Nobel Prize you know that is a very noteworthy development and designation and award, and I think the proper response is to say congratulations,” Pawlenty said on his weekly radio show.

Not only does the opposition dishonor important figures in history, but they also refuse to recognize this award is a direct reflection of our country’s values.

Doing so would admit they are wrong; this country has valued peace and prosperity since its inception. By awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee simply recognized that he has upheld this country’s ideals.

Obama is pursuing a world without nuclear weapons. He won a great victory several weeks ago when he secured the passage of a United Nations resolution that makes it more difficult to turn nuclear programs established for peaceful purposes into programs with hostile intent.

He also acknowledged that the United States must limit its own nuclear stockpiles.

Obama’s predecessor resisted such an idea. It is hypocritical of the United States to call for a restriction on nuclear weapons when we still possess so many. This is a new tone not only in American politics, but also in global politics. It should be recognized as such.

While he is young, Obama is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize and shows great potential to continue this line of work.

Reach Andrew at andrew.hedlund@asu.edu.