A number of additional thoughts have come to mind since the early October announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 and my brief October posting on it (The Nobel: Are They Serious?).
First, it seems obvious that the award was entirely predicated on President Obama’s disavowal of American exceptionalism, a view that he has repeatedly confirmed in interviews since his election. The notion that America has a special role in the world, a kind of providential destiny, is simply anathema to him. Even Bill Clinton subscribed to the long-standing notion of America as the “indispensable nation”. This President seems to think we owe the world an apology for our presuming any such role.
Second, this tendency is part of a larger one noted by John Bolton that characterizes Obama as the first “post-American” President. Not anti-American, just one that is “above” all of that so-called jingoism. As Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said, “Reagan was all about America; Obama is ‘we’re above that now’ “, meaning we stand for something not so parochial, so chauvinistic.
Third, we shouldn’t be surprised at the shallowness of the award. After all, as Bret Stephens notes, the Peace Prize always goes to a “Goodist”, the people who believe all conflict stems from avoidable misunderstanding and that all evil springs from technologies and systems, anything but the hearts of men. Certainly no warrior would ever be eligible (think Roosevelt, Churchill, Reagan, Bush) although it has been warriors who have been responsible for more lasting peace and saved more innocent lives than all the Goodist world leaders one can name.
Fourth, to follow on the last point, Tom Friedman had the best suggestion I have heard for those truly deserving of a peace prize in 2009–the men and women of the American armed services.
Fifth, you would think that the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the leader of the free world would have taken time to acknowledge with his presence the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the most significant events in the march of freedom from tyranny of the past century and certainly an event that greatly enhanced the cause of world peace, while also giving recognition to those who were responsible for its collapse, particularly one of his predecessors who was the first post-World War II President whose objective was to actually win the Cold War. But of course he’s above all that.