We all woke to this absolutely surprising, ultimately inspiring news this morning. Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Diplomacy. The reactions are understandably loud and varied, with many calling on him to refuse it, and many calling that a terrible idea.
Predictably, perhaps, I fall into the latter camp. It seems to me that refusing this award would be not only an insult to a venerable international institution, but would also miss the point.
He should accept the award as the American President, on behalf of the American People, for the change that we all have promised to pursue and will eventually bring about. The award is symbolic (and yes political), and so should his acceptance be.
In other words, work it. Take full advantage of the attention and added prestige it brings to further his agenda of international diplomacy.
I happen to think that the change Obama's brought about in the national psyche and the international dialog warrant this award. Here's the full citation:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as President 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. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the United States is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
This is a wonderful thing. Congrats, President Obama.