It would be hard to think of a more electrifying and deserved recipient of this year's Nobel Peace prize than President Obama. Obama is the fourth American president to win the Nobel prize. His predecessors are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter.
Obviously, the award is based on the hope that Obama will achieve real progress in advancing diplomacy rather than confrontation around the globe. To some degree, he already has. American relations with Europe are vastly improved. He is focusing on global warming. Negotiations are underway with Iran. So are nuclear arms reductions talks with Russia. Leading conservatives such as George Shultz are calling for immediately ending sanctions on Cuba and restoring relations with it, as was emphasized at a New American Foundation event on the presidential Sequoia yacht hosted by Steve Clemons in Washington, D.C. last night.
In short, the moment is ripe for real change. So Obama needs to do more. Obviously, it would be utopian to expect that he can solve the world's ills overnight. But in foreign, as opposed to domestic, policy, Obama can seek to avoid the kind of bickering and squabbling that has dragged down health care. The fact is that the Nobel committee had handed him a unique opportunity. His acceptance speech in Oslo will offer him a golden chance to set forward a more sweeping and comprehensive vision of what his administration and America can do to advance peace. Obama should use the occasion to focus on the most volatile and dangerous region in the world, the Middle East.
This may be the biggest speech of Obama's presidency. Obama's prestige will never be higher. And the world will be listening. Obama needs to speak to it.