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What The &%@#; Show Me The Peace

October 10, 2009

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia

Waking up to the news of President Barack Obama winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize made me think that we are in spring--April 1, to be exact. Living in the Midwest, the thought of sleeping through the cold winters is--for many (including myself)--as good as winning a prize. But once I realized that we are still in the fall, my second immediate reaction was, the Nobel Peace Prize? What The &%@#; Show Me The Peace.

Several hours later, I learned that I was not the only one questioning the merit of such recognition. The President himself reacted to the event saying, “To be honest, I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.” I agree. But I feel that he does not deserve the prize not because of the company he will be joining, but for for he simply did not deserve it; not yet at least.

Common sense necessitates that people are recognized for achieving something that is highly cherished by the entity that is issuing the award; in this case, that will be peace. The emphasis is on achieving not on the potential to achieve something. With all due respect, President Obama is yet to achieve what he promised in many speeches, and certainly he did not achieve peace.

Guantanamo is still open; Iraq war is still raging, Afghan war is escalating, Palestinian-Israeli peace hope is dissipating, Somalia is still burning, threats of war with Iran is looming, human rights abuses are continuing, North Korea is still threatening, Yemeni rebels are still fighting, and nuclear weapons are in storages, on ships, on rocket launchers, and on aircraft bombers.

True, President Obama is aware of all these issues and he is trying to do something about them all. I am hopeful that he will accomplish many of the goals that will advance the cause for peace; and when he does, I am sure everyone will not only cheer for him but many will mobilize to nominate him. But until his speeches and his policies start to have an actual impact on the ground, awarding him the Prize is premature and undeserved.

There are many people who were/are imprisoned, incarcerated, tortured, and/or killed for the cause of peace; they ought to be recognized first. However, the track record of this institution in selecting winners shows it to be a highly politicized and arrogantly elitist institution and as such it tends to reward, in many instances, the influential and the powerful ones who show an inclination to speak about issues related to peace; it rarely recognizes those who actually do the work outside the limelight and transform lives on a daily basis regardless of their ethnic, religious, and political background. This What The &%@# moment is not directed at President Obama as much as it is directed at the institution--The Norwegian Nobel Committee.

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