On October 9, 2009, the five obscure Norwegians who choose the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize announced the year’s laureate: President Barack Obama. At that point, the newly elected U.S. president had been in office for nine months. In fact, when nominations for the 2009 award formally closed on the previous February 1, he had been in office for 12 days. Even some of the most diehard supporters of both Obama and the Peace Prize were dismayed. President Obama, who pronounced himself “humbled” at the announcement, seemed bemused.
For the Nobel panel, however, the president’s actual attainments were not an issue. The Nobel committee hailed Obama for creating a “new climate in international politics” and for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” His diplomacy, the panel said, “is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.” As Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor and columnist at National Review, dryly notes in his new book, Peace, They Say (Encounter, 467 pages), “It is a most perspicacious panel that knows the values and attitudes, the mind and hearts, of the world’s population (7 billion).”
About the Author
George Russell is executive editor of the Fox News Channel. His article “The Left’s Great Crime” appeared in the January issue.