When the Nobel committee awarded President Obama the Peace Prize just eight and a half months after he stepped foot in the Oval Office, many people were left scratching their heads. After all, what, exactly, had this community organizer-turned-president done yet to deserve a prize shared by the likes of Mother Theresa? Well, even the committee acknowledged at the time they weren’t giving it to him for accomplishments already made, but those hoped for.
And now, according to a new memoir by the former director of Norway’s Nobel Institute, the committee believes it may have made a mistake.
“[We] thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect,” Geil Lundestad told the Associated Press in an interview.
Lundestad, who stepped down last year after 25 years as the non-voting secretary of the secretive committee, noted that Obama was startled by the award and that his staff even investigated whether other winners had skipped the prize ceremony in Oslo.
That has happened only on rare occasions, such as when dissidents were held back by their governments.
"In the White House they quickly realized that they needed to travel to Oslo," Lundestad wrote.
"Even many of Obama's supporters believed that the prize was a mistake," Lundestad wrote in excerpts of the book, the AP reports. "In that sense the committee didn't achieve what it had hoped for."
Lundestad’s book offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the committee whose decision-making process is typically shrouded in secrecy.