I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.The Nobel Committee was quite candid that this year’s prize was awarded to influence President Obama’s future actions and not to acknowledge his past achievements, which even his supporters admit are minimal.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
The award is also an example of what Nobel scholars call the growing aspirational trend of Nobel committees over the past three decades, by which awards are given not for what has been achieved but in support of the cause being fought for.In my humble opinion President Obama should turn down the Peace Prize, not because he may or may not be deserving, but out of respect for the both the Prize and the office he currently holds. As Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, he may be called upon to make decisions that will result in the death of many people. Such decisions will not be made lightly, of course, but he may judge them to be necessary for the greater good (for example, defending the existence of an ally such as Taiwan or Israel).
Thorbjørn Jagland, the committee chairman, made clear that this year’s prize fell in that category. “If you look at the history of the Peace Prize, we have on many occasions given it to try to enhance what many personalities were trying to do,” he said. “It could be too late to respond three years from now.”
It is possible that circumstance will cause history to view Mr. Obama as anything but a peacemaker, as events have done to his predecessor, and tarnish the moral stature of the Peace Prize. As he said in his speech:
I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies.President Obama may well be deemed to be a worthy recipient of the Nobel Prize after he leaves office. Just not yet. © 2009 Stephen Yuen