The 44th U.S President Barack Obama who has yet to score a major foreign policy success, won the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 for giving the world “hope for a better future” and striving for nuclear disarmament, in a surprising decision that honored the less than an year old U.S president more for promise than achievement and drew both eulogize and skepticism around the world. The prize worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.4 million) will be handed over in Oslo on Dec. 10.
Obama is the third senior U.S Democrat to win the prize this decade after former Vice President Al Gore won in 2007 along with the U.N climate panel and Jimmy Carter in 2002. He is the fourth U.S president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after Carter (2002), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Theodore Roosevelt (1906).
Obama was one of the record 205 nominees for this year’s prize and the decision has come as a surprise to many. Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, had been tipped as one of the favorites.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. But critics especially in parts of the Arab and Muslim world called its decision premature, too hasty and embarrassing joke.
Describing himself as surprised and deeply humbled, Obama said he would accept the award as a “call to action” to confront the global challenges of the 21st century.
“I do not view it as recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.
Interestingly Afghanistan’s Taliban also came forward to comment on the surprising news and mocked the award. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, speaking to Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location, said ‘it was absurd to give a peace award to a man who had sent 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, and Obama “should have won the ‘Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians.”’
Issam al-Khazraji, a day laborer in Baghdad, said: “He doesn’t deserve this prize. All these problems — Iraq, Afghanistan — have not been solved…The man of ‘change’ hasn’t changed anything yet.”
Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, called the award an embarrassing “joke”.
It is quite debatable that Has Obama done enough to justify winning the Nobel Peace Prize? If not, who should have won?