Forget what the Nobel Prize Committee said about ending nuclear weapons. Forget too that conservatives have now supplied the punchline to the joke about how much they hate our President: "Obama could win the Nobel Peace Prize and conservatives would...."
The Nobel Committee states it best when they write: "Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics." Exactly. Through words and actions, Obama has given new possibilities to a world that only a year ago was defined by conflict. He's rejected the zero-sum game of the Bush years in favor for respect driven diplomacy.
If you need a single moment or single accomplishment to point to, the moment has to be when President Barack Hussein Obama delivered his historic Cairo speech. Not just for the words, to paraphrase the familiar sneer during the campaign, but for placing the weight of the Presidency and the power of America behind those words.
Obama's Cairo speech was a new dawn in the seemingly intractable conflict between Islam and the United States.
Here, finally, was an American President--a Christian, but with a Muslim name, from a Muslim family--willing to speak in a Muslim country in order to both acknowledge injustices done them and demand a higher moral standard in their behavior towards Israel and the West.
Yes, the United States is still waging war in two Muslim countries and with the return of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and the willingness of Iran to use Palestinian terror groups as proxies for their agenda, peace in Israel seems as distant as ever.
But Obama's speech--Obama's election itself--marked an end to days in which average Muslims could embrace a Manichean vision of Muslims inexorably opposed to the United States.
No wonder that extremists--American conservatives and the Taliban--are immediately reacting violently to the announcement that President Obama is the newest Nobel Laureate. They need each other. They need the conflict. No wonder they hate Obama--a guy whose life is dedicated to lowering the temperature.
Conservatives are already sneering that Obama shares the prize with President Woodrow Wilson, a notorious idealist. They forget that Obama also shares the prize with Henry Kissinger, a notorious realist. Obama represents the best of both of those traditions: idealist in his dreams and aspirations for the world, pragmatic and realistic in his actions and his goals.
Obama is a President who seeks to end our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has been more aggressive in the use of Predator drones to hunt down and kill terrorists than the previous administration. There's no contradiction there.
The Nobel Committee's decision is a statement: the future belongs to the dreamers of pragmatic dreams. The future belongs to us.