Huffpost WorldPost
William Bradley Headshot

Why Obama Doesn't Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, Or the Olympics Rap

Posted: Updated:

When the Vulcans finally make first contact with the peoples of Spaceship Earth, there's no doubt who most will choose to represent us. Which is when we may learn that President Barack Obama really is a "Manchurian candidate," an alien agent, albeit not of the sort featured in even the sweatiest imaginings of the yaposphere.

Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize this morning makes it two surreal Fridays in a row.

Last week, we learned that Chicago would not host the 2016 Olympic Games. Which should have surprised approximately no one, not that you'd know that from the profusions of rage and disappointment -- or from the far right, happy rage -- that Obama's trip to Copenhagen came up short.

President Barack Obama says that he is surprised that he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frankly, it was Rio de Janeiro's, and South America's time. America has hosted many Olympics. I went to the Olympics in Los Angeles. And while it was nice to be there, and even nicer to see a magical, if Brigadoon-like, end to LA's heavy traffic, the best way to see the Olympics in all their scope is clearly on television.

One of the great things about the Olympics, and there are decidedly non-great things, is that they present a global city to the world. The world has seen plenty of American cities. And so has America.

If I had a vote on the International Olympic Committee, I'd have rated the four cities in the exact order in which they finished: Rio, Madrid, Tokyo, and Chicago. Chicago was always the longshot of the bunch. I wrote on my blog before Obama flew to Copenhagen that it would take "a miracle finish" for him to get the Games for Chicago.

Rio was the right choice for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Which doesn't mean he shouldn't have tried. It's his home town, after all, and it's America. And he is the president of the United States. We certainly know that the folks celebrating about Obama being "embarrassed" by the rest of the world over the Olympics would have been screaming if he hadn't gone.

True, Tony Blair helped lobby London to victory for the 2012 Olympic Games. But London is London and Chicago, with all due respect, is not. And of course, the right-wingers chortling about Obama's "loss" of the "Chicago Olympics" are the same folks knocking Obama now for being too popular in the rest of the world, as witnessed by today's surprise Nobel Peace Prize.

Just as I never thought that Obama would win the Olympics for Chicago, it never occurred to me that he would win the Nobel Peace Prize. Actually, let me rephrase that. I've always expected Obama -- well, since early 2007 -- to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But I certainly didn't expect it to happen this year.

Obama's off on a strong, creative new course for America in geopolitics. But he's been president for less than eight-and-a-half months. (He was nominated less than two weeks after he was sworn into office!) And events are very much in flux.

I think his Cairo address of June is an important new departure for America. While we have extremist enemies who must be disrupted, it would be insane not to pursue a rapprochement with the Muslim world.

Obama's selection for the Nobel Peace Prize was, let's say, unexpected.

Pursuing nuclear non-proliferation is essential in a world riven by too many fierce rivalries, some of them irrational. Though I doubt we will see the end of nuclear weapons, it's an admirable goal.

Starting to change the tone of international politics, especially with respect to America's relations with the rest of the world, was essential, and Obama is clearly doing that. He's very popular in most of the world, for obvious reasons having to do with what he's saying, who he is, and what he represents.

But so far, most of it is tone, though the lessening of tension is an accomplishment in itself.

Obama can be legitimately credited with helping change American policy in Iraq through the power of his candidacy, and he is following through on timelines for pullbacks and withdrawals. But we're still there, and will be for some time to come.

On Afghanistan, he's working on his third course correction so far. His task, which he is still working on, is to prevent the country from again becoming a haven for jihadists out to attack American and its allies while avoiding a quagmire.

Obama's made a little progress on Israel and Palestine, but has far to go.

On Iran, he's followed through on his commitment for diplomatic engagement with the extremist regime, but the entire situation is in flux, thanks to the regime's bloody post-election crackdown and the Iranian nuclear program.

He's cooling out relations with Russia, but that's all complicated by unsettled matters with regard to Russia's near abroad and its ever intriguing relationship with Iran.

Obama has dealt effectively with North Korea and its many provocations, containing it, but the Hermit Kingdom continues to fool around with missiles and nuclear weapons.

Al Gore, himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his decades of work on climate change, says he's pleased by Obama's selection.

He's working out a relationship with China, America's economic symbiant, but it's a work in progress that includes some pushback on China's military ambitions.

The list goes on.

You see where this is going.

Obama is off to a promising, complex start in a complicated world. While Obama is something of a global valedictorian, the hands-down favorite to be the president of the world, if there were such a thing, he's not the first American president to inspire through his ideas, words, and strategies.

Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the only other sitting presidents to win the Nobel Peace Prize, were also inspirational figures. But they won their prizes for specific, measurable accomplishments.

Roosevelt negotiated the end of a major war between Russia and Japan. Wilson founded the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations, following the first world war. That the league foundered after he founded it doesn't negate the accomplishment.

Obama is already showered with global acclaim. Why not give the Nobel to someone, or some organization, that is essentially unsung yet doing great works? Someone, or some group, that really does need the global spotlight that Obama himself commands on a whim.

Fortunately, Obama himself understands how curious it is that he's being awarded the Super Bowl trophy in the first quarter of the game.

"To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

"But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."

This is why I want it to be Obama who handles that first contact with the Vulcans. Even if the Trekkie president turns out to be one himself.

You can check things during the day on my site, New West Notes ... www.newwestnotes.com.