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Howard Steven Friedman

Howard Steven Friedman

Posted: March 25, 2011 11:34 AM

Obama's Not Returning His Peace Prize


The Libyan assault as well as continued American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan have many people saying that either the Nobel Peace Prize committee should demand the prize be returned or that the president should volunteer to hand it back. For those who think these are serious options, I have some bad news for you -- it'll never happen. Not tomorrow, not next week, not ever.

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize raised a lot of eyebrows around the world given that he had barely been in office and had little on the resume to justify the prize. My conclusion was that the committee gave it for two main reasons: (1) to remind America that they really disliked George W. Bush and (2) to inspire Obama to act on his eloquent expressions of global harmony. Obama was well aware that he had done nothing to deserve the award and so he was faced with the choice of either respectfully declining or of accepting the prize while explaining that he doesn't currently or in the future deserve it. He chose the latter both in words and in deeds.

This wasn't the first time an American was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in spite of questionable qualifications. Al Gore certainly put together a terrific PowerPoint presentation and movie but was not a a passionate green advocate during his time as a vice president (when he had the most direct political influence) nor during his presidential campaign. In fact, you will notice a major time gap in the Inconvenient Truth between the young senator and the post-2000 election environmentalist. Furthermore, his "do as I say not as I do" approach to environmental conservation includes lectures on conserving energy while ringing up $30,000 a year utility bills himself. Certainly much of the motivation for this award was the committee reminding America that they really, really dislike George W. Bush.

Of course, when one raises the topic of questionable American Nobel Peace Prize winners we can't ignore the elephant in the room, Henry Kissinger...but we can focus on him a different time.


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