By Justin Kasprisin
On October 9, 2009, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His selection surprised many as he had only been in office for a few months, and some criticized the award as premature. While President Obama had worthy visions and respect around the world, he still had not acted on all of his promises.
In his will, Alfred Nobel wanted the award presented “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Regardless of whether there is a single “act” that we can point to, there has undoubtedly been a change in the world based on President Obama’s election.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that other countries hold a much higher opinion of the United States in 2009 than in the previous years under President George W. Bush. President Obama may lack a specific act that can be lauded by his critics, but this early in his term, the discourse of the world has changed from one focusing on heightened threats of attack for noncompliance to a calmer approach. While President Obama has ensured military strength can still be used, he has come to the international stage with a new model of leadership which has defused international tensions which can lead to a more peaceful world.
Many individuals deserved to win this award. They have worked tirelessly to promote peace and to better the lives of people around the world, as columnist Nicholas Kristof describes. Many have shown tremendous acts of courage, including a twitterer’s suggestion of Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for standing up to a murderous dictator. There is no doubt that these individuals deserve the award. But maybe this year, after years of seeing increased tensions around the world, Alfred’s Nobel wanted to belong to someone who could deflate the anger and hostility among nations.
Maybe there was no greater act to promote peace than simply changing the tone.
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