Sunday, October 11, 2009

Surprise Nobel for Obama Stirs Praise and Doubts

The choice of Barack Obama on Friday as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, less than nine months into his eventful presidency, was an unexpected honor that elicited praise and puzzlement around the globe.

Normally the prize has been presented, even controversially, for accomplishment. This prize, to a 48-year-old freshman president, for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership.

But the committee, based in Norway, stressed that it made its decision based on Mr. Obama’s actual efforts toward nuclear disarmament as well as American engagement with the world relying more on diplomacy and dialogue.

“The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” the Nobel committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said in Oslo after the announcement. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”

He said, though, that he would “accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century.” Mr. Obama plans to travel to Oslo to accept the award on Dec. 10. He will donate the prize money of $1.4 million to charity, the White House said.

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