Saturday, October 10, 2009

Empty Peace

I was traveling on a bus, on my way home. The bus was broadcasting ChannelNews Asia, and that was when I first learnt that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I scratched my head and searched my mind what President Obama has done over the last 3-5 years that earned him this prize. Frankly, I couldn't think of any. He is a good orator, ran a good Presidential campaign that eventually wrested the White House back into the Democratic Party's hands. He dared to dream and has achieved the highest office in the land, nay, the world.

But what has he done in the cause of peace? Yes, he has turned back many of "less than acceptable" policy approaches of the Bush administration, but that isn't the same as having achieved a lasting peace in some part of the world. Is the world any safer today than it was 2 years ago? Nothing much really has changed. There is still no peace in the Middle East. Iran is still Iran, despite indication of Iran's concession to have its secret nuclear facility inspected. It is not as if Obama initiated the spying and dug up this shaddy happening in Iran's city of Qom. North Korea is still a problem. If not for China's Wen Jiabao, N Korea will still have indicated that it is willing to resume the 6-party talks, with a caveat that required a US concession. The US has still not spoken. Obama is still sending American troops to Afghanistan, and probably backing up Pakistan in its war against the Taliban in its backyard.

So I am still scratching my head thinking of reasons why Obama won the prize.

Or is the Prize is meant to get Obama to come good on the promises that he has made so far? If so, that will be an onerous task. What if he didn't realise his goals and make a difference to world peace, like for example, getting Israel and its neighbours to sign a peace treaty. That was what got Mr Anwar Sadat and Mr Menachem Begin their Nobel Peace prizes. Will the Swedish Academy take back the prize if Obama failed, despite his best efforts?

I think it would probably be prudent for Obama to reject this accolade at this time.