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Nobel laureates should merit prize before receiving it


A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend told me that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first democratically elected female president in Africa. Since 2006, her efforts have supplied Liberia with peace as well as social and economic growth. Leymah Gbowee rallied women of all ethnicities and religions to end their war in Liberia. She then fought for these same women to participate in their nation’s election. Tawakkul Karman battled for democracy and women’s rights in Yemen. She also struggled for peace before and during the Arab Spring.

As described in Alfred Nobel’s will, one award should be dedicated 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.” I am sure we can all agree these are brave women, who fought for what they believed in. Whether it is in the advancement of women’s equality or simply speaking out in countries of great social and economic disparity, our University should applaud these remarkable women for their actions. However as I read the article I could not help but think back to 2009’s Nobel Peace Prize winner — President Barrack Obama.

When they announced Obama as the winner, many Americans, including myself, had no idea why in the world he won. Remember, this was even before he completed one year in office, or, as I would like to say: “Before the change happened.” If you’re still wondering why he won, it was apparently for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Yet, if you watch the Nobel documentary, past laureates criticize his selection. The award is won by one’s actions, like the three aforementioned women. It should not be won for what one says he is going to do, especially if his visions do not even come to fruition. By this logic, I should win the prize next year, because I hope to end world hunger!

The irony is that Obama is the commander in chief of a military still fighting wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. On top of this, on Friday, Oct. 14 Obama announced he sent 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Congo and neighboring countries. The purpose of this action, Obama says, is to assist regional African forces in removing Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, “from the battlefield.”

I must have missed the part when they took out the word “peace” in Peace Prize. I understand the argument that he inherited some of these wars, but Obama also had a promise and plan to bring home our fellow Americans. Since he took office, rather than end a failed practice in nation building, he only expanded it. And although he recently claimed he now has a plan to bring home the troops, I am sure his campaign advisers politically advised it.

Now I could conclude by arguing for an isolationist view as a possible solution, as presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, advocates. However, to turn this country around, one does not need to accept this intense point of view. As a libertarian-leaning Republican, it is my impression that none of the current GOP candidates are as big of a war hawk as the peace-loving president. These candidates are honestly concerned about the delicate nature of our country and its reputation abroad. Sending money to countries when we are on the verge of financial collapse is one thing, but continuing to send supplies and troops to die in the name of democracy is completely reckless. I don’t remember learning that presidents Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon won a Noble Peace Prize for Vietnam. Do not get me wrong — Obama is great at selling ideas and a powerful orator. However, he is simply not in the same league as the three women who won the award this year.

Tyler Seville is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and philosophy with a minor in history.

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