President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

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Nobel Committee: President Obama “captured” the world’s attention

By Juanita Bratcher

It wasn’t the 3 a.m. controversial call discussed during the presidential campaign that made its way into the White House and caused a stir. It was a 5:45 a.m. call to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton informing him that President Barack Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

The news of Obama winning the prestigious Prize spread like wildfire. Response was quick and swift – from supporters and detractors alike.

Shocked, surprised, undeserved, embarrassing, premature, a liability, they responded. Some cautioned that the prestigious award had the possibility of being an albatross around the president’s neck. And some had the unmitigated gall to say that the president should decline his award.

So much for a descriptive play on words.

There were others who questioned the timing of the nomination – stating that President Obama had only been in office 12 days before the February 1, 2009 deadline for nominations. The president took the Oath of Office on January 20, 2009.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the most prestigious awards and honor to be bestowed upon any given recipient. And by all accounts, the president was not even aware that he was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and certainly he didn’t vote for himself. That decision was made by the five-member Nobel Committee, consisting of four females and one male.


   “Only very rarely has a person to the same

     extent as (President) Obama captured the

     world’s attention and given its people hope

      for a better future”  – Nobel Committee


Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, said it was a unanimous decision by the Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama.

When making the announcement, Jagland said the Committee “attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

He said as president, “Obama has created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.”

Further, Obama was honored for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” and that the president was not recognized prematurely for his efforts.

“His diplomacy 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,” the Committee said of Obama.

Being a recipient of the award was just as surprising to the president as with others. Obama acknowledged that he was “surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

(See President Obama’s full comments below)

But amongst all the praise and criticism, Obama said the prize is a “call to action.”

Obama is the fourth U.S. President to win the prestigious prize and the third sitting president to do so. Other presidents receiving the award were Theodore Roosevelt in 1916; Woodrow Wilson in 1919; and Jimmy Carter (out of office) in 2002.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 89 times to 119 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2008 – 96 times to individuals and 23 times to organizations.

While many of Obama’s supporters welcomed the news – certainly, some with a bit of apprehension – there was a long line of Obama detractors who went negative and trashed the good news altogether.

The “verbal lynching mob” (they know who they are) voiced strong opposition to, and questioned Obama being a recipient of the Prize – the same people who sit on the sidelines and criticize for the sake of criticizing, hoping for his administration’s failure. If America fails, doesn’t that affect all Americans?

These are some of the same people who cheered when Chicago lost its bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago; the Birthers, the gun-toters at health care reform town hall meetings, and Tea Party demonstrators.

And many of those strident voices have the unmitigated gall to say that the president should decline the Nobel Peace Prize because he hasn’t done that much in the way of accomplishments to deserve it; that in essence, it’s a joke.

Criticism of Obama getting the award was blunt and hard-hitting by many of those strident voices that are part of an outright “verbal lynching mob” which came full circle during candidate Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and have pretty much lingered on in the aftermath of Obama taking the Oath of Office as America’s 44th president.

And  even though efforts to bring the Olympics to Chicago was initiated by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, some wanted to make Obama the loser after Chicago lost in the first round and Rio de janeiro ended up getting the coveted prize to host the 2016 Olympics. In the first place, it was Daley’s project from the start. It was never Obama’s project. He only went to Copenhagen after being asked to by the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, to give support to Daley’s and the Committee’s efforts, and as President of the United States.

Certainly, Daley should be applauded for his efforts. He and the 2016 Committee showed courage and statesmanship in their efforts to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. That’s what leadership is about – to walk up to the plate and be a leader. Daley did that. But President Obama should not have been looked upon as the one that couldn’t make it happen.

Obama’s response to winning Nobel Peace Prize

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

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