[OPE] Mr Obama's Nobel prize as a derivatives contract

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Oct 10 2009 - 15:09:15 EDT

So what is the Nobel committee after in this case? Gro Holm, the senior
commentator on foreign affairs at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp., says
that the prize committee was probably trying both to ratify Obama's immense
international popularity and put pressure on him to deliver on the promise
of greater international peace and stability.

"You can't overlook the fact that Bush was hugely unpopular here, and that
Obama has turned that trend around," says Ms. Holm. "My 14-year-old daughter
was up all night watching election returns because of Obama."

She says Obama's plan to scrap the missile shield was a "symbolic step" that
"calmed down the Russians" and earned him praise in many European capitals,
but also says the award was given, more than anything, to push Obama toward
what the committee hopes he can achieve. "There is a feeling here that this
is a risk. What does it say about the award if progress isn't made? I think
Obama is a deeply moral man, and this seems designed to remind him of his

She also points to Thorbjorn Jagland, a former prime minister who was
appointed earlier this year to head the committee by the Norwegian
parliament, as an important player in delivering the award to Obama. Holm
says Mr. Jagland has an activist vision for the Nobel as a prize that can
spur peace, rather than simply reward its achievement. "He likes to play big
games, he's very ambitious, and this will give him a platform," she says.
"He'll get to meet Obama and have some influence if he comes to accept the

Erling Borgen, a Norwegian documentary filmmaker and journalist who focuses
on human rights issues, said Jagland's appointment was controversial in
Norway, since his deep political involvement had some worried that the
committee's reputation for evenhandedness would be compromised.

"Criticism of [Jagland] is really picking up after this announcement. He had
a lot of influence over the decision," says Mr. Borgen. "The Nobel Committee
is supposed to be completely independent and nothing to do with the
Norweigan parliament. But Jaglund has been prime minister, minister for
foreign affairs and president of the parliament."

Jagland, on the left side of Norwegian politics, is deeply interested in
Middle East peace. He was one of the five members of the commission led by
George Mitchell in 2000 that led to the creation of the so-called "road map"
for peace that is still the framework for ongoing negotiations. Mr.
Mitchell, a former US senator, was named Obama's Middle East envoy earlier
this year.
Announcing the award, Jagland insisted that we "are not awarding the prize
for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous
year" and praised Obama for going "to Cairo to try to reach out to the
Muslim world, then to restart the Mideast negotiations, and then he reached
out to the rest of the world through international institutions."

Jagland, like Obama, is a big fan of international institutions - he once
nominated the European Union for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet while Obama's
speech to the Muslim world in Cairo has been widely praised, Palestinians
and other Arabs have been grumbling of late that they were empty words with
limited follow-through.

Jagland seemed to hint at this in his further comments, when he addressed
the political intent behind the award. "We are hoping this may contribute a
little bit for what he is trying to do.. [The prize] is a clear signal to
the world that we want to advocate the same as he has done to promote
international diplomacy."

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Received on Sat Oct 10 15:16:09 2009

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