In a surprising move the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace has been awarded to Barak Obama. Setting aside the fact that he had only been the President for 11 days when nominations closed, there are many world leaders that have made headline news for their efforts to advance peace in the world.
Obama is not getting enough credit for what he has accomplished to date. He was able to get the government to give away billions of dollars in the stimulus package. He has made some great speaches about improving the broken health care system. He told the Arab world the United States would stop meddling in their affairs and told Israel to stop settlement construction. To appease Israel, he would get the Arab world to take steps towards normalization. He has also politely asked Iran and North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons program.
The Nobel comitee may have thought this was enough to make him a Nobel Prize Laureate. The worthiness comes into question when considering the results. The health care bill becoming so watered down that by the time it passes, it will make little difference in fixing the system. The Palestinians have used the Cairo speech to make new demands on that must be met before entering negotiations with Israel. Israel has continued to operate in her best interests, despite American demands. The Arab world has laughed at the idea of normalization with Israel. Iran and North Korea continue to develop their nuclear programs.
What about the other world leaders who have promoted peace in 2009.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Iran - Re-elected as President in a landslide victory, he was able to get voter turnout of over 100% in some districts. Protesters against the clear democratic victory were arrested and tortured. This week death sentences were issued for 3 protestors. More are sure to follow. Ahmadinejad was the keynote speaker at the Durban II Anti-Racism conference. Despite world pressure Iran has continued their 'peaceful' nuclear weapons program while promissing wipe Israel off the map.
Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi - Libya - After Obama his speech at the recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was the most covered in the meeting. He was introduced as the King of Kings before delivering his 95 minute speech. The fact he was allowed to go over his 15 minute time limit shows how important his message is. He had much criticism for how the West treats the 3rd world, suggesting changes to make the United Nations more fair to all nations. He arranged a hero's welcome from the Lockerbie bomber upon his return to Libya under humanitarian grounds.
Mahinda Rajapaksa - Sri Lanka - The Sri Lanka military was succesful this year ending their 25 year civil war with the Tamil Tigers. Lack of access by NGOs and media sparked fears that there was truth to the rumours that genocide was being commited against the Tamil population on top of what was necessary to end the civil war. The UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) stepped in to deal with these issues by having Sri Lanka write the resolution to state what a great job they were doing in bringing life back to normal.
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir - Sudan - Genocide in Darfur has been a minor distraction for the UNHRC. Since being indited he has found support among the Arab world including freedom to travel without being arrested. Sudan has secured the nomination to take a seat on the UNHRC.
Bill Clinton - United States - He was overlooked for his involvement in the Oslo accords, where all of the other major players won the award. He has been involved in a ton of charity work since leaving office. He took a trip behind enemy lines to secure the release of two reporters being held in North Korea.
Obama has brought hope to many Americans. This hope and the fact that he is not George W. Bush help land him this lucrative award. Instead of being an award for achievement it is an attempt to put more weight behind his lofty goals. Just as his empty words have not been heeded with the lucrative prize they will not be heeded with it. The Nobel committee should have been patient and waited to award it when Obama has proven to be deserving. In the meantime there are plenty of other candidates who were worthy in 2009.