Premature peacekeeper

Thisanjali Gangoda

On Friday, President Barack Obama became the 21st American to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Of the 96 individuals and 23 organizations who have won the Nobel Peace Prize for working on issues of or relating to establishing democratic freedoms, social and economic equality, ending poverty and resolving international conflicts, Obama is the first to win for maybe, possibly accomplishing a glimmer of the aforementioned events.

This year the Norwegian Nobel Committee chose to give the Nobel Peace Prize to a man whom everyone expects to settle all the world’s miseries with one infallible term as the president of the United States. For only being 10 months into his presidency and having only half accomplished the millions of expectations of him, he has been awarded such an honor for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The committee made particular note of Obama’s efforts to focus international attention on limiting nuclear arms worldwide, along with refreshing the United States’ interest in multilateral diplomacy.

I agree with the committee’s evaluation of Obama’s efforts to promote further international diplomacy and cooperation, in that he has an incredible ability to stimulate country-to-country dialogue. In recent years, America has developed a terribly awkward, if not unpleasant, relationship with the international community. The Bush administration’s continual insistency that every action taken on by the U.S. government was absolutely justified only added to the already mounting global perception of America being the most self-involved, relentless, and hypocritical nation.

It’s not only the Bush administration that acted so, as time and again past U.S. administrations have refused to restructure flawed political agendas, finding themselves involved in much international contempt. However, the very second that Obama gained the American presidency, a new tone in politics, influence and international communication was established. I think that this is indeed an admirable feat to have accomplished by a single man, especially when considering how quickly it occurred. Nevertheless, for this (and this alone), President Barack Hussein Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

The international community has compounded all their hopes and dreams into this man, taking it as far as giving him an internationally renowned award as if to solidify their beliefs. The global political arena is at the cusp of reinvention with Obama at the forefront of it all, but still, we’re so far from global peace and proper international cooperation.

It isn’t fair to assume such change from one man because he’s one man! He can only do so much at a time, and the responsibility should be divided not only among political elites, but also among all of the people of the world. In order to attain global peace and harmony there needs to be collective action, not collective assumption that the United States President will take care of it all.

By giving him the Nobel Peace Prize, the pressure for him to resolve every conflict and concern has been heightened. In some ways, it’s a blessing, because we’ve officially acknowledged how strongly we believe in creating a better world with the help of Obama. But in other ways, we’ve ignored those individuals who have devoted a lifetime of work toward true democracy, peace and awareness, such as Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the Chinese activist Hu Jia.

In my humble (and deeply surprised) opinion, the Nobel Committee didn’t make a mistake in awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Instead, they made a rash decision that in turn left most of the world – and mainly Americans – confused and a bit nervous for our dear president.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]