Sunday, October 11, 2009

OBAMA’S NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

There is so much not to say about Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize—unfortunately, many have nevertheless said it—that I shall confine myself to the few things to say about it. First of all, whatever Obama has or has not done to promote world peace, he did not give himself the award. If we have any clarity about moral agency, we have to acknowledge that he is not responsible for an award which others have given him according to their lights. Second, however, he is responsible for accepting it, and accept it he did. But he himself acknowledged that he had no record of accomplishment, that the award signified little more than a shift in approach which might encourage peaceful approaches to the world’s problems. He seems fully responsible for becoming modesty. And it would be rude, not to say churlish, to refuse it. Third, nevertheless, changing for the better the atmospherics in which international diplomacy is conducted is not a negligible feat. Inspiring others worldwide, though it has yet to yield results, is a significant precursor to the hope of results. Certainly, no one is going to give some previous presidents kudos for their approaches to international relations. Fourth, I am enough of a team player to like it when my country wins a prize. Finally, I do not think that there is anything unworthy about peace, being a peacemaker, or even being called a peacemaker. Has it not been said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God”? Obama has his work cut out for him, but he cannot be blamed for a recognition that he is off to a good start.

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