Whatever Happened to His Nobel Prize?


I’ve been asking my friends a question. It’s a question that should have occurred to me before, but it hit me rather suddenly a few days ago, during President Obama’s fulminations about what he was going to do to ISIS (“ISIL,” in his chronic though unexplained vocabulary). I couldn’t answer the question, so I began asking other people.

The question is: whatever happened to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize? I mean, when was the last time you heard anybody mention it?

I can only speculate about the last occasion when I heard of it. I imagine it was mentioned when Obama was destroying the government of Libya and replacing it with another one (and that turned out well, didn’t it?). But I don’t actually remember anybody bringing it up. I would also imagine that someone mentioned it when Obama was campaigning for reelection on the claim that he had killed Osama bin Laden. Again, however, I can’t specifically recall anyone drawing attention to the Nobel Prize. The Prize for Peace, remember.

I hope this means that the Nobel Prize has become irrelevant. I mean, Al Gore got one.

Then came the Drone Wars, with more brags from Obama about liquidating his enemies. Then his first attempt at invading Syria, with all those statements about drawing lines in the sand. I can’t remember any discussion, at the time, of the peculiar moral and intellectual evolution experienced by the Nobel laureate. Then came . . .

You get the picture. I can’t identify anyone who discussed that issue, ever. Of course, there must have been someone who did. I can’t read everything.

So when we got to Obama’s ISIS bombing campaign, I started asking other people. Nobody could remember any references, printed or televised, to a Nobel Prize for Peace. A few said they hoped that meant it was all a bad dream — Obama, the prize, everything. A few wanted to debate what Obama should have done about the prize in the first place. Some thought he should have refused it, saying he wanted to do something to deserve the honor, which he hadn’t had the opportunity to do as yet; or saying that as the president of a country that often needs to protect itself by engaging in military force, he would be hypocritical if he accepted a prize for Peace. I’d favor the first option, myself. I think it would have been the best public relations move a president ever made. But what’s obvious to me isn’t obvious to Obama.

Anyway, since my friends couldn’t remember any references to the irony of Obama the peace-prize man, I started monitoring my TV more closely. I have yet to encounter the faintest allusion to Obama’s Nobel Prize. Indeed, everyone seems to be studiously avoiding it. To specify just one example: Peter Baker, a big guy at the New York Times, prattling to CNN on Sept. 29. The subject was promising for a Peace Prize mention: Baker had been invited to discuss the president’s inability to describe his actions regarding ISIS as warfare, not just “being in a war environment” and so on. So now, I thought, Baker will certainly mention the Prize. Now he’ll have to mention the Prize. But no. He dished out the usual statements about Obama’s wanting to be “a peace president,” as his interviewer said, but he never even got close to a Nobel Prize.

I hope this means that the Nobel Prize has become irrelevant. I mean, Al Gore got one. I also hope that Obama is becoming irrelevant. But I’m afraid that what is now irrelevant is the human memory.

For memory’s sake, therefore, I wish to specify, for the record, that according to the Nobel Prize website, “the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 was awarded to Barack H. Obama ‘for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.’"

Well, that’s all right. They gave him the prize about one second after he became president. How did they know what would happen afterward?

Share This


Scott Robinson

Dear Wayland,

I'm in the same boat you are (You can critique me for my clicheism Stephen). I was very surprised myself when he was awarded the Peace Prize in 2009. For what? Maybe it was his work for the union in Lakeview (suburb of Chicago, I think) that he kept the workers in peaceful relationships with their employers.

It is ironic that he then kills Anwar Al-awlaki, Anwar's son/cousin, and their driver for I still don't know what crimes. It must be guilt by association or that great evil of talking in ways that displease your leaders. I know, I've heard that he provided shelter and helped with flight lessons of some of the hyjackers on 9/11 and he was in that non-cooperative country, Yemen, where I think we often drone kill people.

This is why I think Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young should rewrite their song about Ohio. New lyrics should be, "Ten drones in Barack's army. See them fly by yah. This summer I hear them calling, Four dead in Libya." It does go to show you the power of having people in high places whose strings you can pull.

Best Wishes,

Bruce Alan Martin

"The Nobel Prize for Failure"
is the proper name for this highly-politicized award.

Without disparaging those few worthy recipients (such as Mother Theresa, Elie Weisel, Albert Schweitzer, and a few others), it becomes obvious that this "Peace Prize" has more often been perverted into a political ploy, having nothing whatever to do with "world peace", when one considers such previous "winners" as:

  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Henry Kissinger & Le Duc Tho
  • Anwar Sadat & Menachim Begin
  • Yassir Arafat & Shimon Perez
  • Kim Dae-Jung
  • Mohamed ElBaradei and the failed IAEA
  • The European Union (EU)
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • Charles Dawes
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Albert Gore

and, more recently, a President who deployed more U.S. troops in Asia than George W. Bush [1] and who also sent U.S. troops into military actions in more than a dozen African countries [2].

[1] Obama' Wartime Presidency
[2] The U. S. Currently has Troops in these African Countries

Scott Robinson

Dear Bruce,

I noticed on your list, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. I just mentioned both of them in my comment to Lori Heine about the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of the progressive label. A good illustration of how these prizes are failures at pertinence.

Good List,

© Copyright 2020 Liberty Foundation. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed in Liberty are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Liberty Foundation.

All letters to the editor are assumed to be for publication unless otherwise indicated.