2009 Nobel Peace Prize

2009 Nobel Peace Prize

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The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize each year.Its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament and roughly represent the political makeup of that body.-History:...

 announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama's promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a "new climate" in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

.

Obama is the fourth U.S. President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

, after Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 (1906) and Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 (1919)—both of whom received the award during their terms—and Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 (2002), who received the award 21 years after leaving office. In addition, then-sitting Vice President Charles Dawes
Charles G. Dawes
Charles Gates Dawes was an American banker and politician who was the 30th Vice President of the United States . For his work on the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served in the First World War, was U.S...

 was a co-winner with Austen Chamberlain
Austen Chamberlain
Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG was a British statesman, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and half-brother of Neville Chamberlain.- Early life and career :...

 (1925), and former Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 was a co-winner with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 (2007)

Obama is the first U.S. president to receive the award during his first year in office (at eight and a half months, after being nominated less than two weeks in office), although several other world leaders were awarded in the year following their election to national office, including Óscar Arias
Óscar Arias
Óscar Arias Sánchez is a Costa Rican politician who was President of Costa Rica from 2006 to 2010. He previously served as President from 1986 to 1990 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars then raging in several other Central American countries.He is also a...

 (1987) and Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

 (1991);

On December 10, 2009, Obama accepted the prize in Oslo. In a 36-minute speech, he discussed the tensions between war and peace and the idea of a "just war
Just War
Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

". Obama announced early that he would donate the full 10 million Swedish kronor (about US$1.4 million) monetary award to charity. The largest donations were given to the housing charity Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House Foundation is best known for the network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. The Fisher Houses are 5,000 to homes, donated to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment...

 who received $250,000, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is a 501 nonprofit organization founded on January 16, 2010, by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to aid the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake...

 which received $200,000. Eight organizations which support education also received a donation. $125,000 were donated to the College Summit, the Posse Foundation
Posse Foundation
The Posse Foundation is an American nonprofit organization that identifies, recruits, and trains student leaders from public high schools to form multicultural teams called "Posses" of 10 to 12 Posse Scholars...

, the United Negro College Fund
United Negro College Fund
The United Negro College Fund is an American philanthropic organization that fundraises college tuition money for black students and general scholarship funds for 39 private historically black colleges and universities. The UNCF was incorporated on April 25, 1944 by Frederick D. Patterson , Mary...

, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation, and the American Indian College Fund
American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund is an nonprofit organization that helps Native American students, providing them with support through scholarships and funding toward higher education...

. $100,000 was donated to Africare
Africare
Africare is a non-profit organization based in the United States which provides development aid for Africa. Africare was founded in 1970 by former Peace Corps members who had worked in eastern Niger, as well as a Nigerian diplomat. Africare now provides aid for approximately 25 countries in every...

, and the Central Asia Institute
Central Asia Institute
The Central Asia Institute is an American non-profit organization, co-founded by Greg Mortenson and Jean Hoerni and based in Bozeman, Montana...

.

Nomination and announcement


The winner is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize each year.Its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament and roughly represent the political makeup of that body.-History:...

 from nominations by others. There were 205 nominations for the 2009 award, which included civil rights activists in China and Afghanistan and African politicians. Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba
Piedad Córdoba
Piedad Esneda Córdoba Ruiz , better known by her nom de guerre Teodora de Bolívar or Gaitán is a former Liberal Senator of Colombia who served for four terms from 1994 to 2010, and a former Member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia...

, Afghanistan's Sima Samar
Sima Samar
Dr. Sima Samar OC is a politician in Afghanistan, who served as Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003...

, Chinese dissident Hu Jia
Hu Jia (activist)
Hu Jia is an activist and dissident in the People's Republic of China. His work has focused on the Chinese democracy movement, Chinese environmentalist movement, and HIV/AIDS in the People's Republic of China...

 and Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He is the President of the Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai and a key figure in the opposition to President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 11 February 2009...

 had been speculated to be favorites for the award.

The five members of the Nobel Committee are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament to roughly reflect the party makeup of that body. The 2009 Committee comprised two members of the Norwegian Labor Party, one from the left-wing Socialist Left Party
Socialist Left Party (Norway)
The Socialist Left Party or SV, is a Norwegian left-wing political party. At one point one of the smallest parties in Parliament, it became the fourth-largest political party in Norway for the first time in the 2001 parliamentary election, and has been so ever since...

, one from the Conservative Party of Norway
Conservative Party of Norway
The Conservative Party is a Norwegian political party. The current leader is Erna Solberg. The party was since the 1920s consistently the second largest party in Norway, but has been surpassed by the growth of the Progress Party in the late 1990s and 2000s...

 and one from the right-wing Progress Party
Progress Party (Norway)
The Progress Party is a political party in Norway which identifies as conservative liberal and libertarian. The media has described it as conservative and right-wing populist...

. The chairman of the Committee was Thorbjørn Jagland
Thorbjørn Jagland
is a Norwegian politician for the Labour Party, currently serving as the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe...

, former Norwegian Labor Party prime minister and Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe is appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly on the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers for a period of five years...

 since September 29, 2009. The panel met six or seven times in 2009, beginning several weeks after the February 1 nomination deadline. The winner was chosen unanimously on October 5. but was initially opposed by the Socialist Left, Conservative and Progress Party members until strongly persuaded by Jagland.

Jagland said "We have not given the prize for what may happen in the future. We are awarding Obama for what he has done in the past year. And we are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do," noting that he hoped the award would assist Obama's foreign policy efforts. Jagland said the committee was influenced by a speech Obama gave
A New Beginning
"A New Beginning" is the name of a speech delivered by United States President Barack Obama on June 4, 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Azhar University co-hosted the event...

 about Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 in June 2009, the president's efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

, and Obama's support for using established international bodies such as the United Nations to pursue foreign policy goals. The New York Times reported that Jagland shrugged off the question of whether "the committee feared being labeled naïve for accepting a young politician’s promises at face value", stating that "no one could deny that 'the international climate' had suddenly improved, and that Mr. Obama was the main reason...'We want to embrace the message that he stands for.'"

Barack Obama


Obama said he was "surprised" and "deeply humbled" by the award. He stated that he does not feel he deserved the award, and that he did not feel worthy of the company the award would place him in. In remarks given at the White House Rose Garden
White House Rose Garden
The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide...

 on the day of the announcement, Obama stated, "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations."

"Throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes," Obama said. "And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century." He said those common challenges included the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons (which he said might not occur in his lifetime), nuclear proliferation, climate change, tolerance "among people of different faiths and races and religions", peace between and security for Israelis and Palestinians, better social conditions for the world's poor, including "the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won't have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future." The United States, he said, is "a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies."

The award, he said, "must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

 because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace." He did not take questions from reporters after giving his statement.

In the United States


Obama's winning of the peace prize was largely unanticipated and called a "stunning surprise" by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, though major oddsmaker Centrebet
Centrebet
Centrebet is an Australian bookmaker licensed in the Northern Territory.Centrebet originated from Alice Springs, Northern Territory and was the first bookmaker to be licensed in Australia in 1993 and the first bookmaker to go online in the Southern Hemisphere. Centrebet was acquired by its biggest...

 had in fact put him at 7–1 odds of winning, with Piedad Córdoba
Piedad Córdoba
Piedad Esneda Córdoba Ruiz , better known by her nom de guerre Teodora de Bolívar or Gaitán is a former Liberal Senator of Colombia who served for four terms from 1994 to 2010, and a former Member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia...

 and Sima Samar
Sima Samar
Dr. Sima Samar OC is a politician in Afghanistan, who served as Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003...

 at 6–1 and Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He is the President of the Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai and a key figure in the opposition to President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 11 February 2009...

 at 7–1.
The award drew initial criticism that it was undeserved or premature due to a perceived lack of significant accomplishments on Obama's part so far and his role in conflicts abroad. However, opinions were divided.

In a USA Today / Gallup Poll conducted October 16–19 with a margin of error of +/-3%, 61% of American adults polled responded that they thought Obama did not deserve to win the prize, while 34% responded that he did; when asked if they were personally glad that Obama won the award, 46% of respondents said they were and 47% said they were not glad."

There was widespread criticism of the Nobel Committee's decision from commentators and editorial writers across the political spectrum. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 published a mildly-supportive editorial which said the prize was "a (barely) implicit condemnation of Mr. Bush’s presidency. But countering the ill will Mr. Bush created around the world is one of Mr. Obama’s great achievements in less than nine months in office. Mr. Obama’s willingness to respect and work with other nations is another." It said that much remains to be done. Among those agreeing that the award was a criticism of the Bush administration were the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, as well as Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times. Today host Matt Lauer
Matt Lauer
Matthew Todd "Matt" Lauer . is an American television journalist best known as the host of NBC's The Today Show since 1997. He was previously a news anchor in New York and a local talk-show host in Boston, Philadelphia, Providence and Richmond...

 and Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Jacob Goldberg is an American conservative syndicated columnist and author. Goldberg is known for his contributions on politics and culture to , of which he is editor-at-large...

 of the National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

 said that less than a year into the first term, there have been "no major foreign policy achievements to date." Goldberg added: "surely someone in Iran—or maybe the Iranian protestors generally—could have benefitted more from receiving the prize" while in CounterPunch
Counterpunch
Counterpunch can refer to:* Counterpunch , a punch in boxing* CounterPunch, a bi-weekly political newsletter* Counterpunch , a type of punch used in traditional typography* Punch-Counterpunch, a Transformers character...

, political journalist Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Claud Cockburn is an American political journalist. Cockburn was brought up in Ireland but has lived and worked in the United States since 1972. Together with Jeffrey St. Clair, he edits the political newsletter CounterPunch...

 said that, in historical context of other former U.S. Presidents winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the award to Obama it "represents a radical break in tradition, since he's only had slightly less than nine months to discharge his imperial duties." Peter Beinart
Peter Beinart
-Early life and education:Beinart was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of South African immigrants. His mother, Doreen, works at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his father, Julian Beinart, is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His stepfather is theatre...

 of the Daily Beast scathingly called the decision a "farce", while Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 ironically said : "In defense of the committee, we might say that the achievement of doing nothing to advance peace places Obama on a considerably higher moral plane than some of the earlier recipients".

Many were sharply critical of the Nobel Committee. A Wall Street Journal editorial, noting Obama's comment that the world's problems "can't be met by any one leader or any one nation", opined, "What this suggests to us—and to the Norwegians—is the end of what has been called 'American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

'. This is the view that U.S. values have universal application and should be promoted without apology, and defended with military force when necessary. Put in this context, we wonder if most Americans will count this peace-of-the-future prize as a compliment." Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson
Michael Gerson
Michael John Gerson is an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, a Policy Fellow with the ONE Campaign, and a former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as President George W...

 wrote, that the committee members "have forfeited any claim to seriousness. Peace—the kind of peace that keeps people from being killed and oppressed—is an achievement, not a sentiment. [...] Intending to honor Obama, the committee has actually embarrassed him." Commentary
Commentary (magazine)
Commentary is a monthly American magazine on politics, Judaism, social and cultural issues. It was founded by the American Jewish Committee in 1945. By 1960 its editor was Norman Podhoretz, a liberal at the time who moved sharply to the right in the 1970s and 1980s becoming a strong voice for the...

 magazine's Peter Wehner wrote that the award, with past awards that seemed aimed at criticizing the Bush administration, showed the Nobel Committee "long ago ceased to be a serious entity; this choice merely confirms that judgment."

According to The Washington Post news analyst Dan Balz
Dan Balz
Daniel J. Balz is a journalist at The Washington Post, where he has been a political correspondent since 1978. Balz has served as National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and as the Washington Post’s Texas-based Southwest correspondent. Balz sometimes appears on the news show...

, "[E]ven among his supporters there was a sense of surprise and even shock on Friday [the day of the announcement], a belief that the award was premature, a disservice and a potential liability." An editorial in The Washington Post began, "It's an odd Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honoree", and compared the Nobel Committee's statement that Obama had "created a new climate in international politics" to a recent satirical skit on television. A Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 editorial said the committee "didn't just embarrass Obama, it diminished the credibility of the prize itself". Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times wrote, "It dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way". Much of the commentary across the political spectrum involved describing the award as something risible, with the humor focusing on Obama's getting the award without having accomplished much. According to an analysis in The New York Times, "it [...] [is] striking how so many people seemed to greet the Nobel news with shock followed by laughter," On the morning of the announcement, several of The Washington Posts opinion-page columnists, posting at the newspaper's "Post Partisan" blog, characterized the award as laughable or directly satirized it, including such supportive columnists as Ruth Marcus
Ruth Marcus (journalist)
Ruth Allyn Marcus is a journalist who currently writes an op-ed column for the Washington Post. In March 2007, she was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in commentary...

 ("ridiculous—embarrassing, even"), Richard Cohen (who satirized the award), and foreign-affairs columnist David Ignatius
David Ignatius
David R. Ignatius , is an American journalist and novelist. He is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. He also co-hosts PostGlobal, an online discussion of international issues at Washingtonpost.com, with Newsweek 's Fareed Zakaria...

 ("goofy" and "weird"), and Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley is an American political journalist, commentator, television host, and pundit. Primarily active in print media as both a writer and editor, he also became known to television audiences as a co-host on Crossfire...

 (whose satirical response came the next day). Other prominent commentators who often supported Obama but responded with ridicule included Peter Beinart and Ann Althouse
Ann Althouse
Ann Althouse is an American law professor and blogger. Raised in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware , Althouse has a degree in fine art from the University of Michigan, B.F.A. 1973, and graduated first in her class from New York University School of Law, J.D. 1981. She clerked for Judge Leonard B...

.

James Taranto wrote in The Wall Street Journal an article summarising various opinions on the Internet, concluding how the award was embarrassing for Obama. He said the award was a "staggeringly premature honor--the equivalent of a lifetime-achievement Oscar for a child star--makes yesterday's satire into today's news" Fred Greenstein, presidential historian and author and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, told FOX News that giving President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize is a "premature canonization" and an "embarrassment to the Nobel process." Slate
Slate (magazine)
Slate is a US-based English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post Company...

 magazine blogger Mickey Kaus
Mickey Kaus
Robert Michael Kaus , better known as Mickey Kaus, is an American journalist, pundit, and author best known for writing Kausfiles, a "mostly political" blog which was featured on Slate until 2010. Kaus is the author of The End of Equality and had previously worked as a journalist for Newsweek, The...

, New York Times columnist David Brooks
David Brooks (journalist)
David Brooks is a Canadian-born political and cultural commentator who considers himself a moderate and writes for the New York Times...

 and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton
John R. Bolton
John Robert Bolton is an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican presidential administrations. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 on a recess appointment...

 amongst others, called for Obama to not accept the award; pundit Michael Crowley
Michael Crowley
Michael Crowley is a senior correspondent and deputy Washington bureau chief for . From 2000 to 2010 he was a writer for The New Republic. His work has also been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, GQ, New York and Slate. Michael Crichton allegedly based a minor character on him in his...

 argued that it was a "mixed blessing".

Political reaction


Nobel laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 called the award "extremely well deserved", Among elected officials, Obama not only received congratulations from allies such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

, but kind words (if not approval) from some Republican officeholders, including Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, who said, "I think Americans are always pleased when their president is recognized by something on this order". RNC
Republican National Committee
The Republican National Committee is an American political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is...

 chairman Michael Steele discussed his disapproval of the award in a fund-raising letter, writing, "the Democrats and their international leftist allies want America made subservient to the agenda of global redistribution and control."

In Norway


A poll conducted by Synovate
Synovate
Synovate was a market research firm owned by the Aegis Group. It was formed from the acquisition of a number of smaller market research firms. It has a number of different divisions, such as Synovate Healthcare, Synovate Customer Experience, Synovate Censydiam and Motoresearch. They claimed...

 for the newspaper Dagbladet
Dagbladet
Dagbladet is Norway's second largest tabloid newspaper, and the third largest newspaper overall with a circulation of 105,255 copies in 2009, 18,128 papers less than in 2008. The editor in chief is Lars Helle....

 showed that 43% of the Norwegian population believed giving Obama the prize was right, while 38% believed it was wrong. 19% had no opinion. The poll showed a sharp divide between younger and older people; of those over 60 years of age 58% were for and only 31% against it. Of those between 18 and 29 years of age, only 25% approved of the decision, while 42% disapproved.

The award divided opinion among politicians. Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Norway
The Prime Minister of Norway is the political leader of Norway and the Head of His Majesty's Government. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Stortinget , to their political party, and ultimately the...

 Jens Stoltenberg
Jens Stoltenberg
is a Norwegian politician, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party and the current Prime Minister of Norway. Having assumed office on 17 October 2005, Stoltenberg previously served as Prime Minister from 2000 to 2001....

 congratulated Obama for a "well-deserved prize". Siv Jensen
Siv Jensen
Siv Jensen is a Norwegian conservative-liberal politician, and the current leader of the Progress Party. She was the Progress Party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2009 parliamentary election.-Early and personal life:...

, leader of the opposition Progress Party
Progress Party (Norway)
The Progress Party is a political party in Norway which identifies as conservative liberal and libertarian. The media has described it as conservative and right-wing populist...

, said that while Obama had taken several good initiatives the committee should have waited to see their results. Erna Solberg
Erna Solberg
Erna Solberg is a Norwegian politician, and current leader of the Conservative Party of Norway. She was the Municipal and Regional Minister in Kjell Magne Bondevik's second government, 19 October 2001 until 17 October 2005. In 2005, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of St. Olav.-Early...

, leader of the Conservative Party
Conservative Party of Norway
The Conservative Party is a Norwegian political party. The current leader is Erna Solberg. The party was since the 1920s consistently the second largest party in Norway, but has been surpassed by the growth of the Progress Party in the late 1990s and 2000s...

, also said that the prize came early and increased pressure on Obama to live up to the expectation. Torstein Dahle
Torstein Dahle
Torstein Dahle is a Norwegian politician and economist. He works at the Bergen University College and represents Red in the city council of Bergen. Dahle was born in Oslo....

, the leader of the leftist party Red
Red (Norway)
The Red Party is a Norwegian far-left political party and the leading party to the left of the Socialist Left and the Labour Party in Norway. Since 2007 the party has sought a seat in Parliament; the only counties in which they have a realistic chance of earning a seat are Oslo and Hordaland...

, called the award a scandal, citing the fact that Obama was the commander-in-chief of a country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other reactions


The response from U.S. allies was generally positive; reactions around the world have been mixed but mostly congratulatory:

Several Nobel Laureates have commented: Former Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 (winner 1990), gave his congratulations, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and founder of the Grameen Bank, an institution that provides microcredit to help its clients establish creditworthiness and financial self-sufficiency. In 2006 Yunus and Grameen received the Nobel Peace Prize...

, (co-winner 2006 prize), said the committee's award was "an endorsement of [Obama] and the direction he is taking." Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid...

 said the award to Obama "anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all." Mairead Corrigan
Mairead Corrigan
Mairead Maguire , also known as Mairead Corrigan Maguire and formerly as Mairéad Corrigan, is a Northern Irish peace activist. She co-founded, with Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, the Community of Peace People, an organisation dedicated to encouraging a peaceful resolution of the Troubles in...

, (co-winner 1976), expressed her disappointment, stating, "[g]iving this award to the leader of the most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will be rightly seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country's aggression and domination." Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity , the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 95.Wałęsa was an electrician...

, (1983) cofounder of the Solidarity trade union, and former president of Poland said the award was premature. "He has not yet made a real input." The 14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

 congratulated Obama.

United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations....

 Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 praised the Nobel Committee's choice. "We are entering an era of renewed multilateralism [...] President Obama embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement on the world's biggest problems: climate change, nuclear disarmament and a wide range of peace and security challenges."

In Europe, French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 said the award would reinforce Obama's determination to work for justice and peace. He added that the award "finally confirms the return of America in the hearts of all the peoples of the world". Russian president Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

 said the award will encourage warmer U.S.–Russian relations, and he hoped it would "serve as an additional incentive" for both governments to foster a better "climate in world politics". British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 sent a private message of congratulations to President Obama. Hope that the prize would assist Obama's efforts toward nuclear disarmament was also a part of congratulatory statements from Ireland's Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Brian Cowen
Brian Cowen
Brian Cowen is a former Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 7 May 2008 to 9 March 2011. He was head of a coalition government led by Fianna Fáil which until 23 January 2011 had the support of the Green Party and independent TDs.Cowen was also leader of Fianna Fáil from 7 May...

 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

. Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi
Federico Lombardi
Federico Lombardi, SJ is an Italian Roman Catholic priest and the current director of the Holy See Press Office.-Early life and ordination:...

 said the Vatican "appreciated" the nomination. Kosovar President Fatmir Sejdiu
Fatmir Sejdiu
Fatmir Sejdiu is a politician from Kosovo. He was the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo and was the first President of the Republic of Kosovo.-Early life and education:...

 congratulated Obama by saying, "This award is testimony to your success as a leader of a free country aimed at creating a safer and more peaceful world."

In Australia, former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer
Alexander John Gosse Downer is a former Australian Liberal Party politician who was Foreign Minister of Australia from March 1996 to December 2007, the longest-serving in Australian history...

 said that the selection was "a political decision of gross stupidity", laying the blame on the selection committee for a "hideous display of cynical politics". Stuart Rees, director of the Sydney Peace Foundation
Sydney Peace Prize
The Sydney Peace Prize is awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation associated with the University of Sydney. The Sydney Peace Prize is the only International Peace Prize awarded in Australia....

 in Australia, questioned the award. "Perhaps the Nobel organisation wants to give him a magic wand. I think the guy is full of promise, but I don't think the promise has been realised yet particularly in regards the Middle East."

In Asia and the Middle East: Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 said that Obama was the "appropriate" person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. "His hard work and his new vision on global relations, his will and efforts for creating friendly and good relations at global level and global peace make him the appropriate recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize," said Siamak Hirai, a spokesman for Karzai. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid
Zabiullah Mujahid
Zabiullah Mujahid is one of the self proclaimed spokesmen for the Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. He has acted as a media conduit between the isolationist rebel forces and Western media teams. He was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter...

 said the decision was ridiculous, saying, "The Nobel prize for peace? Obama should have won the 'Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians.'"
Indonesia's, Masdar Mas'udi, deputy head of the Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama, praised Obama’s policy towards his country as confirmation of his worthiness as a Nobel laureate. "I think it's appropriate because he is the only American president who has reached out to us in peace," he said. "On the issues of race, religion, skin colour, he has an open attitude.".
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Yukio Hatoyama
is a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan between 16 September 2009 and 2 June 2010, and was the first ever Prime Minister from the modern Democratic Party of Japan....

,
Indian President Pratibha Patil
Pratibha Patil
Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the 12th President of the Republic of India and first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in as President of India on 25 July 2007, succeeding Dr. A.P.J...

 and Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 sent congratulatory messages to Obama, but Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
Manouchehr Mottaki
Manouchehr Mottaki is an Iranian politician and diplomat. He was the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Whilst technically appointed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is considered to be closer to more pragmatic conservative factions and during the 2005 presidential election, he was the campaign...

 told reporters that "the decision was taken hastily and the award was [too] early."

In Latin America, former President Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 called the award "positive" and said the prize should be seen as a criticism to the "genocidal policy" carried out by past U.S. presidents. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro
Nicolás Maduro
Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician who was appointed foreign minister by President Hugo Chávez on 9 August 2006.- Biography :...

 said the award was a surprise and perhaps premature. "As President Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 said at the United Nations, (the Obama administration) is a government that has raised expectations and hopes in many people in the world, amid great contradictions."

In Africa, the news of the Obama Nobel Peace Prize was positively received. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
Mwai Kibaki
Mwai Kibaki is the current and third President of the republic of Kenya.Kibaki was previously Vice President of Kenya for ten years from 1978–1988 and also held cabinet ministerial positions, including a widely acclaimed stint as Minister for Finance , Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for...

 issued a statement saying that the prize was a "recognition of the contribution [Obama is] making for the well being of humanity." In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party's victory in the 2009 general election....

 used Ubuntu—the Zulu
Zulu language
Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

 term for “the importance of community"—in his congratulatory message, saying that the U.S. president’s "leadership reflects the true spirit of Ubuntu because your approach celebrates our common humanity." Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was touted as a possible Nobel laureate, said Obama deserved the honor.

Nobel lecture


President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace prize in person at the Oslo City Hall
Oslo City Hall
Oslo City Hall houses the city council, city administration, and art studios and galleries. The construction started in 1931, but was paused by the outbreak of World War II, before the official inauguration in 1950. Its characteristic architecture, artworks and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, held...

 in Norway on December 10, 2009. In a 36-minute speech, reportedly written by Obama and then edited by Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau (speechwriter)
Jonathan "Jon" Favreau is Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama. Favreau attended the College of the Holy Cross, graduating as valedictorian. In college, he accumulated a variety of scholastic honors, and took part in and directed numerous community and civic programs...

 and Ben Rhodes, he discussed the tensions between war and peace and the idea of a "just war
Just War
Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

". The address contained elements of the ideas of Reinhold Niebuhr
Reinhold Niebuhr
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr was an American theologian and commentator on public affairs. Starting as a leftist minister in the 1920s indebted to theological liberalism, he shifted to the new Neo-Orthodox theology in the 1930s, explaining how the sin of pride created evil in the world...

, someone Obama once described as one of his favorite philosophers.

The speech was generally well received by American pundits on both ends of the political spectrum. Several noted similarities between Obama's message and the rhetoric of President George W. Bush. This was also mentioned by former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson
Michael Gerson
Michael John Gerson is an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, a Policy Fellow with the ONE Campaign, and a former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as President George W...

, who called it a "very American speech" and wrote that "Obama was recognizing that the great commitments and themes of American foreign policy are durably bipartisan". A number of prominent Republican politicians publicly praised the speech, including Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is a U.S. Republican Party politician who served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995 and as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999....

 and Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

. Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat
Ross Douthat
Ross Gregory Douthat is a conservative American author, blogger and New York Times columnist. He was a senior editor at The Atlantic and is author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class and, with Reihan Salam, Grand New Party , which David Brooks called the "best single...

 called it an oftentimes impressive speech that was "An extended defense of using realist means in the service of liberal internationalist ends". Columnist Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Michael Sullivan is an English author, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative. He has focused on American political life....

 distinguished between the Obama and Bush messages, stating that "Obama is far more conservative than his predecessor" in his views on human imperfection, reality, and war; he also linked the speech back to the tragic nature of Obama's line "the audacity of hope".
Former Jimmy Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg
Hendrik Hertzberg
Hendrik Hertzberg is an American journalist, best known as the principal political commentator for The New Yorker magazine. He has also been a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and editor of The New Republic, and is the author of ¡Obámanos! The Rise of a New Political Era and Politics:...

 said that the speech "will live on for a long time as a text for peacemakers in power". A few commentators were more critical, with former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton
John R. Bolton
John Robert Bolton is an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican presidential administrations. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 on a recess appointment...

 calling it "pedestrian, turgid, and uninspired" and US Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich
Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

 "Once we are committed to wars instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian
Orwellian
"Orwellian" describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society...

 journey to the semantic netherworld where war is peace..."

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 praised the eloquence of the speech, noting that "President Obama gave the speech he needed to give, but we suspect not precisely the one the Nobel committee wanted to hear." The Wall Street Journal echoed this sentiment and congratulated Obama for defending the occasional necessity of war and for stating that evil exists in the world, though used the same editorial to criticize him for current disarmament talks with Russia and a lack of progress with Iran and North Korea. The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 lauded the speech as "a blockbuster even by Obama's lofty standards", and even though the ideas were not new, "Obama's special gift is to make them seem achievable by appealing to our higher nature." It was also received well by columnists in The Washington Post.

Abroad, British historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

 said of the speech that "in its seriousness, bravery and clarity, [it] was on a par with FDR and Churchill" and "summoned the spirit of Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

".

External links


  • Official Nobel Page
  • Remarks by the President on Winning the Nobel Peace Prize from The White House
    Executive Office of the President of the United States
    The Executive Office of the President consists of the immediate staff of the President of the United States, as well as multiple levels of support staff reporting to the President. The EOP is headed by the White House Chief of Staff, currently William M. Daley...

    , October 9, 2009
  • Kenyans Take Pride in Obama's Nobel Prize by Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
    Los Angeles Times
    The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

    , October 9, 2009