moving speeches on disarmament and mid-east peace to be sure. But are memorable speeches sufficient? Is it fitting and proper to reward mere words, where a man is positioned to accomplish great deeds?
The prize comes at a moment when the president seems to be wavering on a number of peace related issues: Iran, Afghanistan, global warming, the continued absence of regulations in the financial industry, non-adherence by the US to the Geneva conventions which mandate war crimes prosecutions, the president's call for the indefinite detention of War on Terror suspects. Moreover, it comes as another prize winner, the Dalai Lama, has been wandering around Washington this week. Obama won't meet with Tibet's spiritual leader out of fear of antagonizing the Chinese. On the domestic front, lobbyists continue to run amok. Every day, more of us are asking: is the American presidency merely a bully pulpit for powerful corporate interests?
Perhaps the hope is that awarding Obama the prize now will encourage Obama to take a step back from the precipice; that it might alert this young president not to continue his steady drift toward the Dark Side.
If so, the prize does not come a moment too soon. The Obama presidency may be only a few weeks away from being inexorably squandered. A decision on General Stanley McChrystal's proposal to escalate the war in Afghanistan looms. The US seems to be standing in the way of progress at the Bangkok Climate Change Talks.
What could come of awarding the prize to President Obama? Conceivably, it could put the heat on Obama to use his presidency toward great ends, encouraging him to take political risks in the pursuit of tangible achievements worthy of the Peace Prize. The decision to ordain Obama as a peacemaker, bolsters this president -- one in which the world has put so many hopes. It gives him a credential -- an international mandate -- to make peace.