The proclamation announcing the Nobel Peace Prize for President Obama states that he “created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”
The Nobel committee has fallen into the same trap that many American commentators have: rather than actually evaluating outcomes and successes, they are rewarding those who express good intentions. From the proclamation, the Nobel Committee actually acknowledges this, disregarding whether or not any of Obama’s “good intentions” will eventually result in policy success. After going through the checklist of “accomplishments,” there is little or no evidence that any of these things have resulted, nor will they result, in making peace. Multilateralism and dialogue about disarmament and the climate are meaningless.
It appears that the only thing Obama has done, which the committee views as an accomplishment, is to weaken the United States’ standing in the world. While the Nobel Committee may view this as an accomplishment, a weaker United States is certainly not consistent with a more peaceful world. America’s strength on display has in fact led to greater peace in the world over the last 70 years, while presidencies such as Jimmy Carter’s, which sought to diminish America’s standing, actually led to greater world conflict.
Good intentions alone, of course, do not necessarily lead to peace. And a naïve belief that good intentions will result in peace is dangerous. Every attempt at appeasement has been laden with good intentions, whether it is Chamberlain’s cowering to Hitler, or Carter’s weakness in light of increasing Soviet expansion. Weakness in the face of great danger does not establish peace.
The Nobel Committee has made a mockery of itself by honoring the hope for peace, rather than an actual accomplishment of it.