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Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Nobel Peace Prize has been given in the past to those who do not deserve it, and it has been withheld from those who did. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the great men of peace in history and the person who most deserves it in the world, and yet it was not awarded to him. Thus, there are men and prizes for every age. But even though the donors have failed several times and at times have demonstrated favoritism, still the Nobel Peace Prize means much, and it is natural that controversy should break out whenever it is granted or withheld, as happened this time when it was awarded to President Barack Obama, who himself was taken by surprise when chosen.

In my opinion, there are some persons in the world who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for what they did, or what they tried to do, in trying to halt wars or achieve global or regional peace. Obama is one of them. Since the very start, the man drafted for his presidency a reconciliatory project between the West and the Arabs and between the United States and Muslims throughout the world. He conducted a major public relations campaign across television screens, universities and political establishments, and he has toured the region propagating the idea of co-existence and peace between the Western and Muslim sides. We can justly claim that he has accomplished something good that is unprecedented, for his campaign has managed to ease resentment at the popular level in the Arab region and the Muslim world in general.

The Nobel Prize is not necessarily granted for stopping a war or establishing new diplomatic relations, for these might have been the result of the cumulative sum of developments that imposed themselves on the ground. When Obama chose to ease the conflict with Cuba and reduce the pressure on that country which has been in a state of conflict with the United States for more than half a century, he was in fact taking a distinguished political step. Also, when Obama chose to cancel the missile defense shield project that Russia considered directed against it, he applied the brakes to a history of potential escalation and a possible return to the Cold War.

Obama may not recall a single American soldier from Iraq. He may be forced to double his forces in Afghanistan and perhaps enter into a military confrontation with Iran. But he would still remain a man of peace because these are compulsory decisions that are imposing themselves on the president who is seated at the White House. It is not logical by any means that we should expect from any American president that he would send roses to the Al-Qaeda organization which pursues a major scheme against his country.

Obama has distinguished himself in a very important field, namely his quest to promote the ideology of international conciliation. This is a message that has won him and his country massive popularity in Europe, where every candidate had been wary of linking his name to Washington in view of the growing hatred for it. His message succeeded in Russia, which had been swerving more and more toward a national feeling of hostility to others. Furthermore, all the polls that were conducted after Obama’s historic trip to Cairo this year have demonstrated that the Arabs and the Muslims look at the President with exceptional esteem even though he has not presented anything new for them on the ground. Even the extremist groups in the region have been forced to mitigate their hostile tones after they discovered that the Arabs trust him till now. Thus the feeling of optimism and reduction of tension and hatred in the world brought about by President Obama merits appreciation and deserves the Peace Prize.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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