October 9, 2009
Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To President Obama
President Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in an astonishing verdict.
Nobel observers were stunned by the unforeseen decision so soon in the president's term, which began a short two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination cut-off date.
"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," said Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee.
"So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act," stated former Polish President Lech Walesa. "This is probably an encouragement for him to act. Let's see if he perseveres. Let's give him time to act."
The award is perceived by some to be a thinly veiled insult at former President George W. Bush from a committee that famously disliked his unilateral military steps after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. On the other hand, the Nobel committee extolled Obama's conception of "a new climate in international politics."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, winner or the prize in 1984, said Obama's award means that big things are anticipated from him in the future.
"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."
The candidates nominated besides Obama included Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a Colombian senator, a Chinese dissident and an Afghan woman's rights activist.
"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 announced.
Obama is the third U.S. president to win the award in office: President Theodore Roosevelt won in 1906 as President Woodrow Wilson did in 1919.
Former Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, feels that Obama has shown tremendous leadership in his endeavor to avoid nuclear propagation.
"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 has also tried to resume discussion between the Israelis and Palestinians, even though these talks remain fraught with conflict and disagreement.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation was pleased over the award recipient on behalf of its originator Nelson Mandela.
"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 announced.
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel wrote that his namesake award 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 used a broad understanding of Nobel's stipulations, awarding the prize to people who fight poverty, illness and climate change.
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