All my life, said Voltaire, I have had but one prayer: "O Lord, make my enemies look ridiculous. And God granted it."
In awarding the Nobel Prize for Peace to Barack Obama, the Nobel committee has just made itself look ridiculous.
Consider. Though they had lead roles in ending a Cold War lasting half a century, between a nuclear-armed Soviet Empire and the West, neither Ronald Reagan nor John Paul II ever got a Nobel Prize.
In 1987, Reagan negotiated the greatest arms reduction treaty in modern time, the INF agreement removing all Soviet SS-20s and all U.S. Pershing and cruise missiles from Europe.
Other than hosting the "Beer Summit" between Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, what has Obama done to compare with what these statesmen did to make ours a more peaceful and better world?
What has Obama accomplished to compare with what the other sitting presidents to receive the Nobel Prize accomplished?
Theodore Roosevelt won in 1906 for the Portsmouth Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. Woodrow Wilson won the 1919 Nobel Prize for getting Germany to accept his 14 Points as the basis for an armistice that ended the bloodiest war in all of European history.
And what about Richard Nixon?
In 1972, he made his historic trip to China, ending a quarter century of hostility, negotiated SALT I with Leonid Brezhnev, limiting ICBMs, and ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam. True, Nixon persuaded Hanoi to sign the Paris Peace Accords only after 13 days of "Christmas bombing."
Yet that did not deter the Nobel committee from giving the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Hanoi 's Le Duc Tho.
Early in the week his award was announced, Obama snubbed the Dalai Lama, the 1989 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who has spent 50 years as a courageous voice for the rights of his Tibetan people, who have endured half a century of Chinese communist repression and cultural genocide. Which of these -- the Dalai Lama or Barack Obama -- seems more deserving of a Nobel Prize for Peace?
Since the news broke, the president has been a national object of mockery and mirth. In fairness, this is not his fault. There is no evidence he lobbied for the prize; no evidence he knew it was coming.
"Is this April Fools' Day?" said one startled aide.
In accepting, Barack was properly humble, saying that he did not belong in the company of previous recipients, that he would try to live up to the expectations his Nobel had created.
It is the members of the Nobel committee who have made fools of themselves and further devalued their prize, if that is still possible.
For how many Americans could, without Google, identify Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Muhammad Yunus and Martti Ahtisaari? Who are they? The 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008 winners of the Nobel Prize for Peace. In that company at least, Barack, for his willingness to talk to America's adversaries and enemies, is not outshone.
Indeed, looking down the list of other recipients in this decade -- Jimmy Carter in 2002, Muhammad ElBaradei in 2005, Al Gore in 2007 and Obama -- the committee should probably rename it the Nobel Prize for Peace ... and Stick-It-to-George Bush Trophy.
By 2002, Carter, who should have been included in the 1978 Nobel that went to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat for the Israeli-Egyptian peace he brokered at Camp David, had become a global pest, bedeviling Bush, as he did Bill Clinton, in violation of the tradition of ex-presidents, all the while accomplishing nothing.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency was right about no atomic weapons or programs in Iraq, ElBaradai himself regretted not having been more courageous in opposing the war. As for Gore, his prize was the committee's way of providing publicity for a campaign against global warming that is a front for the latest scheme to advance world government.
As for Obama, he got the award because he is the quintessential anti-Bush. Yet, the Nobel committee did him no service.
They have brazenly meddled in the internal affairs of the United States. They have reinforced the impression that Obama is someone who is forever being given prizes -- Ivy League scholarships, law review editorships, prime-time speaking slots at national conventions -- he did not earn. They have put him under moral pressure to mollify a pacifist left. They have brought him to the point, dangerous in politics, where a man becomes the butt of reflexive jokes, as did Bill Clinton in the Monica affair.
These Norwegian groupies, acting out of "adolescent adulation," writes the Financial Times, have exposed themselves as "an annex to the left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party" with a "deeply misguided act" that will "embarrass (Obama's) allies and egg on his detractors."
The committee did something else. They ensured that their Nobel Peace Prize will never be taken as seriously again as once it was.
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