President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO (AP) - President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

Barack Obama
Richard Drew

File - U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in this Sept. 23, 2009 file photo. President Obama on Friday Oct. 9, 2009 won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT. The White House had no immediate comment on the announcement, which took the administration by surprise.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided not to inform Obama before the announcement because it didn't want to wake him up, committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.

"Waking up a president in the middle of the night, this isn't really something you do," Jagland said.

The Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," Jagland said.

Obama's election and foreign policy moves caused a dramatic improvement in the image of the U.S. around the world. A 25-nation poll of 27,000 people released in July by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found double-digit boosts to the percentage of people viewing the U.S. favorably in countries around the world. That indicator had plunged across the world under President George W. Bush.

Still, the U.S. remains at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Congress has yet to pass a law reducing carbon emissions and there has been little significant reduction in global nuclear stockpiles since Obama took office.

"So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act," said former Polish President Lech Walesa, a 1983 Nobel Peace laureate.

"This is probably an encouragement for him to act. Let's see if he perseveres. Let's give him time to act," Walesa said.

The award appeared to be a slap at Bush from a committee that harshly criticized Obama's predecessor for his largely unilateral military action in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The Nobel committee praised Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage.

"You have to remember that the world has been in a pretty dangerous phase," Jagland said. "And anybody who can contribute to getting the world out of this situation deserves a Nobel Peace Prize."

Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which are awarded by Swedish institutions, the peace prize is given out by a five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Like the Parliament, the committee has a leftist slant, with three members elected by left-of-center parties. Jagland said the decision to honor Obama was unanimous.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the prize in 1984, said Obama's award shows great things are expected from him in coming years.

"It's an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all," Tutu said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope."

Until seconds before the award, speculation had focused on a wide variety of candidates besides Obama: Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a Colombian senator, a Chinese dissident and an Afghan woman's rights activist, among others. The Nobel committee received a record 205 nominations for this year's prize, though it was not immediately apparent who nominated Obama.

"The exciting and important thing about this prize is that it's given to someone ... who has the power to contribute to peace," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.

Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to win the award: President Theodore Roosevelt won in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize in 1919.

Wilson received the prize for his role in founding the League of Nations, the hopeful but ultimately failed precursor to the contemporary United Nations.

The Nobel committee chairman said after awarding the 2002 prize to former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, for his mediation in international conflicts, that it should be seen as a "kick in the leg" to the Bush administration's hard line in the buildup to the Iraq war.

Five years later, the committee honored Bush's adversary in the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore, for his campaign to raise awareness about global warming.

Obama was to meet with his top advisers on the Afghan war on Friday to consider a request by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to send as many as 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan as the U.S war there enters its ninth year.

Obama ordered 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan earlier this year and has continued the use of unmanned drones for attacks on militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a strategy devised by the Bush administration. The attacks often kill or injure civilians living in the area.

In July talks in Moscow, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed that their negotiators would work out a new limit on delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads of between 500 and 1,100. They also agreed that warhead limits would be reduced from the current range of 1,700-2,200 to as low as 1,500. The United States now as about 2,200 such warheads, compared to about 2,800 for the Russians.

But there has been no word on whether either side has started to act on the reductions.

Former Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said Obama has already provided outstanding leadership in the effort to prevent nuclear proliferation.

"In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself," ElBaradei said. "He has shown an unshakeable commitment to diplomacy, mutual respect and dialogue as the best means of resolving conflicts."

Obama also has attempted to restart stalled talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, but just a day after Obama hosted the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in New York, Israeli officials boasted that they had fended off U.S. pressure to halt settlement construction. Moderate Palestinians said they felt undermined by Obama's failure to back up his demand for a freeze.

Nominators for the prize include former laureates; current and former members of the committee and their staff; members of national governments and legislatures; university professors of law, theology, social sciences, history and philosophy; leaders of peace research and foreign affairs institutes; and members of international courts of law.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation welcomed the award on behalf of its founder Nelson Mandela, who shared the 1993 Peace Prize with then-South African President F.W. DeKlerk for their efforts at ending years of apartheid and laying the groundwork for a democratic country.

"We trust that this award will strengthen his commitment, as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, to continue promoting peace and the eradication of poverty," the foundation said.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses."

The committee has taken a wide interpretation of Nobel's guidelines, expanding the prize beyond peace mediation to include efforts to combat poverty, disease and climate change.

___

Associated Press writers Ian MacDougall in Oslo, Celean Jacobson in Johannesburg, George Jahn in Vienna and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland contributed to this report.

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Comments

Mark Wrenn's picture

A State Department

A State Department spokesperson, commenting on the Obama's Nobel:

"Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes."
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mark Turek's picture

The only thing Obama

The only thing Obama deserves right now is to be impeached. God bless our USA.

Mark Wrenn's picture

Impeached for what? Because

Impeached for what? Because the teabaggers heads all exploded today?
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 's picture

Why? Is he having sex with

Why? Is he having sex with an intern or are you guys going to make up some other excuse to impeach him?

Ray St. Onge's picture

tron, 10 years later and you

tron, 10 years later and you have no idea why President Clinton was impeached. Having sex with an intern is not a crime.

 's picture

sheeh, I realize the

sheeh, I realize the reasons the right wing wackos gave for the impeachment. The facts are it was just about the sex. They spent $60 million dollars over seven years and had to show something for their effort. So they illegally weaseled out that he had sex in the oval office and used trumped up charges. The only reason he was impeached is because they had a huge majority in the House, which they loss because of the impeachment. They could not muster enough vote in the Senate to sustain the impeachment, because it was just about sex. Now if you want to continue to live with the illusion that it was something else, then see a doctor, they might be hope for you yet. But please don't post anything again until you've gotten treatment.

 's picture

I realize that, but the

I realize that, but the right wing wackos used that as a pretext to get him impeached. Apparently you guys are going to try something similar with President Obama.

Ray St. Onge's picture

tron you may want to believe

tron you may want to believe that President Clinton was impeached for sex, but again you would be wrong. President Clinton was impeach for perjury. That fact that he perjured himself about sex, well that is the only connection. The crime for which he was impeached was perjury.

 's picture

Perjury was the EXCUSE you

Perjury was the EXCUSE you guys used to impeach former President Clinton, but the reason was sex, pure and simple. You guys believed that once you dragged his sexual history public, you would have Carte Blanche to do anything you wanted. Unfortunately for you, the American people were on to your lies. So keep holding on to your illusions. Your head looks great buried in the sand.

Ray St. Onge's picture

You cannot impeach someone

You cannot impeach someone for an "EXCUSE". Why was President Clinton disbarred by the Arkansas Bar?

 's picture

I finally realize how you

I finally realize how you right wing wackos can justify your scorn for the President's Nobel Prize. You have decided that the President doesn't deserve it because he doesn't fit YOUR definition of how the prize should be awarded. However "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses" is the only criteria that has to be used, since the aforementioned is directly from the will of Alfred Nobel. There are parts that are subjective, however I believe the President fits the definition much better than YOU have or ever will. So stuff it, you start you own prize and you can put whatever restrictions you want. Until then, lets use Alfred Nobel's criteria, OK?

Ray St. Onge's picture

Voting for the Nobel Peace

Voting for the Nobel Peace Prize concluded two weeks after President Obama took office, exactly what did he do during those two weeks? I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, but there are others, like Senator Mitchell, who have done more.

 's picture

As is typical, you're lying

As is typical, you're lying again. I love the way you right wing wackos take half truths, embellish it to fit your parameters, then proclaim it as fact. The fact is the NOMINATIONS for the Nobel Peace Prize closed February first. President Obama was one of hundreds of people nominated, including virtually every world leader, from Fidel Castro to Hamid Karzai and even, believe it or not, the Pope and Bush. The actual voting happened recently. So I am expecting an apology for your lying to the people, and atonement for such a blatantly stupid act!

Ray St. Onge's picture

WOW. I was mistaken,

WOW. I was mistaken, nominations closed on February 1st. Still what did he accomplish between Jan 20 and Feb 1? I still maintain Senator Mitchell currently more deserving.

 's picture

Isn't it amazing that the

Isn't it amazing that the wacko right hates so much they cannot appreciate the honor given to the President of the United States. They are truly unAmerican. AND they should be ashamed of themselves. I think they're just jealous that Bush was never considered for the award, mainly because they don't understand the criteria for the award.

Ray St. Onge's picture

Hey Tron, I though you said

Hey Tron, I though you said you always respected the office of the President, but here you are referring to "Bush" and not President Bush.

 's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong, but

Correct me if I'm wrong, but George W Bush is not the president. I believe that the current President is Barak Obama.

Ray St. Onge's picture

You know I love to correct

You know I love to correct you when you are wrong but, Scotty_O and MomOfTwo beat me to it.

Oh, by the way the President has a "c" in his name.

 's picture

I love it when the three

I love it when the three stooges think they're right, but are wrong. When speaking directly to a former President you address them as Mr. President or President (last name). However in print the title is optional AND if you use a title you must use either ex or former in front of it. If you don't believe it, check the U.S. Correspondence Handbook, there's a copy at the Auburn Library, providing you're not to lazy to go look.

Ray St. Onge's picture

http://www.boston.com/busines

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/02/27/etiquette_at_work/ says
"Q: I'm unhappy when I hear former presidents and other ex-officials addressed as ''Mister." Doesn't this belittle their importance? I was taught to address people with the highest title or position they've achieved in their career.

W.P., Chelmsford

A: You've waded into the quagmire of what's ''proper" here, so bear with me. When addressing a former president of the United States in a formal setting, the correct form is ''Mr. Last Name." (''President LastName" or ''Mr. President" are terms reserved for the current head of state.) This is true for other ex-officials, as well.

When talking about the person to a third party, on the other hand, it's appropriate to say, ''former president Last Name." This holds for introductions, as well: A current state governor is introduced as ''Governor Tom Smith," while you'd introduce an ex-governor as ''former Governor Jim Bell."

Now, let's wade a bit deeper. In an informal setting (such as a private lunch), it's acceptable to use the title the ex-official held. Here, you could refer to former president Jimmy Carter as either ''President Carter" or ''Mr. Carter."

Finally, if the person you're lunching with held more than one previous position -- say, judge and ambassador -- you'll want to know which title he or she prefers"

Ray St. Onge's picture

Scotty_O when tron and Lil

Scotty_O when tron and Lil start with the name calling you know that they have lost the argument and that you're right.

Mark Turek's picture

tron, are you a member of

tron, are you a member of ACORN?

 's picture

NO, I don't even know if

NO, I don't even know if there is a chapter in Maine. Now let me ask you a question, have you renewed your membership in the KKK?

Mark Wrenn's picture

To the wingnuts, ACORN is

To the wingnuts, ACORN is the new "n" word.
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mark Wrenn's picture

From the DNC: "The

From the DNC: "The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim."

______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ray St. Onge's picture

Senator Mitchell has

Senator Mitchell has actually done more for world peace. It woudl be different if this had been 2012, when President Obama would have had time to actually do something, currently he has only talked about what he wants do.

David A. Gagnon's picture

LMAO, what an F'n joke the

LMAO, what an F'n joke the Nobel Peace Prize committee has become. If they gave it to Jimmy C. it was a matter of time before this laughable announcement was made. I can see it now the nations two worst Presidents walking into the sunset holding hands.

Mark Wrenn's picture

"See ya at Walmart on the

"See ya at Walmart on the the first of the month." Keep repeating "welcome to wal mart" and one day you'll get it right.
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mark Wrenn's picture

Take that,

Take that, wingnuts.
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

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