Beginning on October 9, 2009, the day the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced that President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize his critics and pundits declared that he did not deserve the Prize. Obama agreeing with them said, "I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who have been honored by the Prize." This writer disagreed with the President and his critics and in mid-October my article "Obama Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize" published on "Authorsden.com," expressed my rationale.
Nobel Committee chariman Thorbjoem Jagland said of the award "I think it will help him. He is the right man at the right time, and that's why we want to enhance his efforts."
The committee emphasized that Obama's initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and in the Mid-East and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism were factors that merited him receiving the Nobel Prize.
While agreeing with the Nobel committee I have something more to add as to why Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. I recall, several years before Obama was born on August 4, 1961, even though I was a veteran of the Korean War, I had to vigorously protest and face threats before I was allowed to register to vote in my native state of Alabama. It would be several years after he was born before Congress enacted Voting Rights legislation that extended the right to vote to African Americans in the South.
I contend that 50% of the reason why Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize is because he is an African American who succeeded in becoming President of the United States. African Americans were enslaved for 244 years and segregated, discriminated against and disfranchised for nearly 100 years. Many white Americans rejecting their parents' and foreparents' racist values joined African Americans and other ethnic Americans to elect Obama President. This is a tribute to twenty-first century white Americans and Obama who gained their trust.
The other 50% of the reason Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize is because of his achievements during the first nine months of his presidency that included his vision for America and the world, rescue of the economy, recalibration of a failing financial system and home mortgages, stabilizing unemployment and rejecting hegemony as America's foreign policy strategy.
In his December 11, 2009, 4000-plus word speech at the Oslo City Hall Peace Prize Ceremony Obama emphasized two point that I want to address: (1) his continuing disavowal of his worthiness to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and (2) fighting "a just war."
Expressing humility, as he did, was in order but acknowledging other Nobel Prize awardees that included Schweitzer, King and Mandela as worthy of receiving the Nobel Prize, he declared himself to be underserving of the Prize. That showed his lack of discernment. Rightly, he acknowleged that King made it possible for him to be President. He could have added and a worthy recipient of the Nobel Prize. There is no doubt in my mind that King would agree with me that Obama deserved the Nobel Prize. One of the most important accomplishments that makes him deserving of the Prize is his vision. Vision trumps everything else or takes first place in the pursuit of progress in creating a more just world.
Obama made a case for a "just war." He observed that "King said in the same ceremony years ago - "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." But he disagreed with King, as I had done during the Montgomery Bus Boycott when King and I were leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I hold that nonviolence is not the only viable or appropriate approach to be employed in dealing with adversaries. It is not violence or nonviolence but being responsible that matters most. This is what Obama seems to have meant when he spoke of "a just war" - being responsible. But as we speak of a "just war," "God's war," or infer that "God is on our side," all of which Americans have said, let us heed the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who said, "It is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God's side."
Like Obama I opposed the Iraq War. Unlike Obama I opposed the war in Afghanistan. Although he inherited a war that was started by former President George W. Bush, he was no less for this war than his predecessor and is pursuing the Bush war policy. Killing Afghans, American soldiers and soldiers from other nations will not accomplish anything good that cannot be accomplished better without war. (However, I hasten to add, if Obama had not been for the war in Afghanistan he would not be President.) The lives lost and finances spent on these two wars could have been used to help poverty-stricken people in America and provide real health care for all Americans - of the same quality available for the President and members of Congress.
Based on the substance of his Nobel Peace Prize speech, Obama receives from this writer a grade of B-plus.
Copyright 2009 by Uriah J. Fields