Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins Noble Peace Prize, Committee Says, "He Ain't Bush"

From the Washington Post:

Heralding Obama as a transformative figure in U.S. and international diplomacy, the committee said: "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Obama is the third sitting U.S. president -- and the first in 90 years -- to win the coveted peace prize. His predecessors won during their second White House terms, however, and after significant diplomatic achievements. Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize in 1919, after helping to found the League of Nations and shaping the Treaty of Versailles; and Theodore Roosevelt was the recipient in 1906 for his work to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese war.

In contrast, Obama is struggling with two wars -- weighing whether to increase the number of U.S. troops fighting to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and overseeing the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq. He is mired in domestic struggles over healthcare reform and economic recovery efforts, and searching for ways to build momentum to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to assemble an international effort to stop Iran's nuclear program.

In choosing Obama from among 205 nominees, the committee appeared to be continuing its rebuke of the Bush administration's go-it-alone approach to world bodies and alliances, including its decision to go to war in Iraq without U.N. approval. In 2007, for example, former vice president Al Gore won for raising awareness on global warming after the Bush administration abandoned the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions, arguing it would take too great a toll on the U.S. economy. Obama has worked to distance himself from Bush's policies since his first day in office, abolishing the use of torture in interrogation of terror suspects and promising to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by Jan. 22, 2010.

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