Realizing that peace was probably nowhere near, the Norwegian
Nobel Committee may have decided to award the Nobel Prize to Obama, for Hope.
According to reports, the Committee voted unanimously and with ease for Obama,
for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and
cooperation between peoples." The Nobel committee recognized Obama's
efforts to solve complex global problems including working toward a world free
of nuclear weapons. Obama, who has been barely nine months President of the
United States, was awakened to the news. In reaction, he said he was “humbled
to be selected".
Elsewhere, the news was received with mixed feelings. On my
Facebook page many responded with one word “Why” and a question mark. One
person jokingly used an Arabic Language Metaphoric Style which when translated
would mean, “Obama won for what will be”. He won for the peace that will be or
the peace that could be. Someone else asked: "Now we are celebrating Christmas in June?" Perhaps what we are celebrating is a paradigm shift that may allow us to celebrate Christmas in December!
Two weeks ago, Obama’s efforts to bring about peace in the
Middle East came to a difficult test. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin
Netanyahu, practically forced the American President to give up his demand for
a freeze on building the Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territory.
A day after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the tripartite summit in New
York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN that the U.S. demand for a
complete settlement freeze in the West Bank was "costing us a great deal
of time." The covert message to Obama seemed to be, don’t waste your time.
Uri Avneri, an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom
peace movement, commented on the confrontation in Ramallah online with a piece
titled “The Drama And The Farce: Netanyahu Humiliates Obama”. In Avneri’s eyes,
Obama had come unprepared to exert pressure on Israel. Avneri asked ”Why did Obama insist on the
settlement freeze – in itself a very reasonable demand – if he was unable to
stand his ground?”
Netanyahu won that battle, showed his people and the world
that he is “no sucker”. Obama may have lost his ground this one time, but he
has hopefully learned a lesson. Perhaps Obama also showed the world Netanyahu’s
true intentions towards peace.
It is not realistic to expect that a century-long conflict
like the one in Palestine, or decades-long nuclear arms race will all be instantly
resolved by one tap of some magic wand which Obama alone keeps. So, when the
Nobel Prize Committee says that "Only very rarely has a person to the same
extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a
better future," the Committee is being realistic in its expectations. No
one alone can achieve world peace. Obama has won for propagating Hope and for
extending a hand for peace and understanding. Now it is the turn of others to capture
that opportunity and embrace that hand before it is no longer there. In his speech commenting on winning the prize, Obama declared that he sees the prize not as recognition for his own achievements, but as a call to action and as means of giving momentum to a set of causes meeting common challenges.
The Committee rejected the claim that awarding the Nobel Prize
to Obama at such an early stage gives undue recognition to efforts which are
yet to bear realized fruits. The Committee demonstrated that it intends to promote
Obama just it had done for Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 recognizing his efforts to
open up the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The Committee further announced
that Obama’s "diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to
lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared
by the majority of the world's population,". Plainly put, as “Realism”
ruled, force and military might alone decided the fate of conflicts. Thus the
world rewarded aggression and consequently promoted further conflict and an
endless race to acquire instruments of destruction, war and terror. In awarding the Nobel Prize to Obama, the
Committee promotes a new era of Post-Realism, where justice and not might,
should rule, not only in poet’s lyrics or beauty queen speeches, but in the
behavior of world leaders and in the conduct of nations.
Obama indeed may have won the Nobel Prize, not for the Peace
he helped realize, but for the Hope he has managed to inspire. The Hope that
our world can truly be a better place. And like everything else, Peace may start
with one shred of hope. Hope for Peace.