Obama’s Peace Prize rewards aims, not results

President Obama has also got the peace prize for good intentions – but for ones that cannot be judged. It was an award for the ideals he wrapped into campaign speech-making. He was nominated a mere 12 days after his inauguration. It was also a prize for not being someone else – George W Bush. The White House, in many European eyes, no longer had a sheriff who acted alone, but a leader who offered partnership. The Peace Prize award was, if you like, a political endorsement from Europe.

When the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, woke the President at 6.30 in the morning to tell him of the prize he may have had misgivings. He could not have wanted it. For a prize comes with judgements and assessments. And for him this is far too early. It enabled his critics back home to say he has achieved nothing, nada.

It also encouraged a rush to judgement. The president today is a different figure to last January. He has been shaped by the reality of power. As the old saying goes “you campaign in poetry and govern in prose”.

The president is a Peace Prize winner who has just committed a further 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. He offered Iran dialogue but has been snubbed. There is scant progress in the Middle East. Guantanamo Bay remains open.


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