[col. writ. 10/9/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The award of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack H. Obama, evoked gasps of shock in Stockholm, Sweden, and both praise and catcalls in America.
For some, it seemed a fitting tribute to a young man who broke numerous barriers in his 2008 election. For others, especially those on the right, Obama's award seemed granted to one who hasn't really done much, given 9 months in office.
Both views miss the expressed intentions of the award presenters: 5 members of the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden. As Europeans, they, like the vast majority of Europeans, see him not just as a bright, popular politician - but as the antithesis to his bellicose predecessor -- George W. Bush, the self-proclaimed 'War President.'
Bush's administration typified the epitome of U.S. arrogance and hyper-nationalism; a neocon dream that threatened, blustered and belittled all that did not bow to Washington.
Obama has gone out of his way to court Europe, to engage with their leaders, and to assure them in contrast from the past administration, that they're not 'Old Europe',
But the Nobel Prize award is more than mere relief that the newest occupant in the Oval Office isn't named Bush; it is an attempt to push an American president toward peace; and away from war.
That is, they granted the award, not on the basis of what he's done, but in hope and anticipation of what he'll do. And they're betting -- hoping -- he won't become Bush in black face.
The Nobel Committee said their award was more for his "intentions" than for his achievements, and that's fair enough.
Grappling with two wars, lobbing (droned) missiles into Pakistan, with hints of actions against Iran, peace certainly isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Nor does Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Force Base, or Diego Garcia (all prisons where foreigners are held virtually outside of the reach of the law), evoke peace.
But one salient feature of his nomination proved irresistible to the Nobel Prize Committee: his name wasn't George W. Bush.
--(c) '09 maj