President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.
The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.
On the other hand, Iain Martin of the Wall Street Journal is quick to criticize the decision:
This is completely bizarre. President Barack Obama has just won the nobel peace prize. It is unclear why. For making peace, of a kind, with Hillary Clinton? For giving up the missile shield and cheering up the Iranians? For preparing a surge of troops and weaponry in Afghanistan?
Of course, traditionally it has been standard procedure that winners of the prize do their peacemaking first and are only given the prize after they have achieved something. But this innovation sweeps aside such old-fashioned notions of reward following effort.
Think about it, it’s so post-modern: a leader can now win the peace prize for saying that he hopes to bring about peace at some point in the future. He doesn’t actually have to do it, he just has to have aspirations. Brilliant.
Perhaps a little too quick, in my opinion.