Peace Nobel Prize 2009: The Right Choice

[…] the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind […] one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

From the Will of Alfred Nobel

Associated Press is an old newsagency, and must have reported on many Peace Nobel Prize laureates. It quotes Geir Lundestad, secretary of the committee:
“More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.”

And Barack Obama’s presidency is at a critical moment, not only at home. The abolition of nuclear weapons may take decades, and his initiatives for peace between Israel and Palestine are in the doldrums, and will remain there, if he doesn’t takes the courage to make American support for Israel conditional. The suggestion that organizations like AIPAC were almighty has too often been used as a lame excuse for failures in American diplomacy. If America wants to continue to lead the world, it must lead in the Middle East, too.

The Prize is a call to action, as Obama noted himself.

When Yasser Arafat, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, was awarded the prize in 1994, nobody could tell if he would turn out to be a successful statesman, or a failure, even if many people probably claim that they did predict his failure. Arguably, he turned out to be a one. Rabin seemed to rise to the challenge, but got killed for that. Among the 1994 laureates, only Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, can still answer the fifteen-years-old  “call to action”.

But so can Obama. Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin said he thought it was “very strange” that Obama had won the award and feared that the President would use it as an opportunity to force Israel into a peace deal.

Which is exactly what Obama should do, if Israel’s government itself can’t do better than now. Even if successfuly done, his would still be no warranty for peace, because it takes both Israel and its neighbors to achieve lasting peace. But at least the West will have done its homework.

And then it will be the Palestinians’ turn.


Barack Obama – a Choice out of Fear and Hope, November 5, 2008

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