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Obama’s Nobel Prize…A Ray of Hope? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize victory has caused quite a stir.

It wasn’t only the United States that was surprised by the win but the entire world as well and this was evident in the comments that followed Obama’s peace prize triumph. Though Obama received messages and calls congratulating him, he is still facing a fierce campaign launched by people who question how much he deserves this prize.

If you type in ‘Nobel’ and ‘Obama’ in the Google search engine you will find no less than 48,000 related news items and commentaries on this subject and over a third comes from the Arab media alone.

In the US, the media highlighted comments made by Republicans who asked about what Obama has achieved so far to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Some even attacked Obama and went as far as accusing him of being racist against white people.

A comment on Twitter said “Apparently Nobel Prizes are now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush,” and another said “Obama awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry” because “he’s just got great chemistry.”

On the Arab level, the reaction in general was not very welcoming of the Nobel Prize and most comments were negative.

There is no doubt that the controversy over President Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize has given more momentum to an already heated debate over America’s image and role between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The majority of what has been said and written deserves discussion. The assumption that Barack Obama is a man of words and not of deeds, or that the prize is an expression of appreciation of his good intentions and not his actual achievements, or talk about the stumbling Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, are all points that do not, on their own, make up a complete argument.

It is not fair to say that Obama only expresses certain standpoints.

Abandoning the European missile defence plan, speeding up the US withdrawal from Iraq, insisting on a halt to Israeli settlement construction (even though this is being delayed), closing down Guantanamo Bay, admitting that America’s image has been tarnished all over the world and addressing the Islamic world using an unfamiliar language whether in Cairo or in Ankara, is what Obama did.

Obama initiated a number of projects, and in this context the Nobel Peace Prize gives him more motivation and more involvement in all the aforementioned topics. What the American opposition says about Obama giving people who protest and oppose US policy around the world a chance to voice their objection is true. However, this objection is a new path that America should take and should work towards change and this is what Obama started.

The conviction Obama shows with regards to building US relations with the world is of real value. This is where the role of the Nobel Peace Prize comes in, which many people believed was awarded too early. Perhaps it will add legitimacy to the strategy Obama declared straight after his election.

The justification that is presented for Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize triumph speaks of hope…

Obama possesses a particular ability to push matters towards hope, not only in America, but also in the rest of the world. Perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize will contribute towards making this hope a reality, particularly in our countries that are drowning in despondency and despair.