Today's announcement that President Obama won this year's Nobel Peace Prize not only strengthened the peace process, it also benefited human health worldwide.
Many of President Obama's efforts thus far to reduce and eventually eliminate the global stockpile of nuclear weapons could prove more beneficial than any other action in preventing the ultimate public health disaster: nuclear war.
We know that nuclear war is not winnable; it is also astoundingly deadly. Millions, even billions of people could perish in a 'limited' nuclear exchange; say one between the nuclear-armed and adversarial nations of Pakistan and India. Such a catastrophic event could lead to nuclear winter, worldwide crop damage, and cause billions of people all over the world to perish from starvation. Acknowledging President Obama's efforts to stop the arms race, as the Nobel committee did today, also salutes our president's efforts to protect human health.
Some say this award is a bit premature for a world leader in office less than one year. While I disagree with those naysayers, it's important to review what President Obama has accomplished so far, since even before taking office, to promote peace and protect human health.
Seven years ago, then-Illinois State Senator Obama proclaimed his opposition to invading Iraq at a rally in Chicago. The Iraq war has led to more than 100,000 deaths, mostly of civilians. Obama has opposed this conflict from the start, an important effort to promote human health and safety.
Since taking office, President Obama has wasted no time in addressing the threat to human health posed by nuclear arms. On his first trip to Europe as President, Obama called for a world free of nuclear arms. "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," he said on April 5, 2009 in Prague.
A few months later, President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia met to sign an agreement to start scaling back nuclear weapons stockpiles.
Last month, he became the first U.S. President to ever chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament, and was able to convince other states to agree to a UN Security Council Resolution to strengthen nuclear nonproliferation policy globally. President Obama also has big plans for a summit next spring that will lay the ground work for securing loose nuclear weapon material globally.
"There are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it's worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve. But make no mistake: We know where that road leads... Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, and accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it."
President Obama has been calling for peace, diplomacy and for a way to ban nuclear arms from the planet to protect human health. The Nobel Committee justly acknowledged his foresight when they awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize today.