Former Australian foreign minister takes aim at Obama’s Nobel prize
Former foreign minister Alexander Downer has taken aim at the Nobel Peace Prize committee over its decision to award the latest prize to US President Barack Obama.
Mr Downer described the decision ‘a farce’ and said Mr Obama should have refused to accept the prize.
“He has been in office for less than nine months when it is announced that he has won the prize, so they would have made the decision a few weeks ago I suppose. It does make the whole system a bit of a farce,” he said.
Mr Downer says it is a pity Mr Obama did not refuse the award.
He says the prize is overtly political and the committee is not equipped to choose the right winner.
“There are people out there like Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean leader, who have been struggling for years and years for human rights and for a fair deal for their people who have been ignored,” he said.
“While somebody who is, admittedly a very great global celebrity who has just come to office, gets the Nobel Peace prize.
“So it is clearly a completely political decision. Not a decision based on merit.
“Frankly to be nominated after he has been in office for 11 days and to win the prize after he has been in office for less than nine months, I think it discredits the whole system.”
Mr Obama, for his part, seemed somewhat embarrassed when he commented on his achievement.
Dr John Lee, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, says he does not think Mr Obama was a deserved recipient.
“The peace prize has to be for actual achievement, not potential, and it also has to be achievement in promoting world peace, not in raising the prestige of the American state, which is largely what Barack Obama has done so far,” he said.
“You can look at a whole host of human rights advocates throughout the planet who are doing good things, whether it is through charitable works or whether it is through actually engaging in the political process.
“America is actually at war so it is hard to believe that he would receive the Nobel Peace prize for that purpose.”
But there are others who say the Nobel committee got it right and that Mr Obama’s win will serve as an inspiration to the world.
The President of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Dr Ken Macnab, says initially he thought the award was premature but now he has come around to the Nobel Committee’s decision.
“He has been only nine months in his office as president but even in that nine months he has bought a qualitative change to American political style, possibly military style, concern for nuclear weapons, for international cooperation rather than conflict,” he said.
“He has reached out to the Islamic world with a fairly well received speech and he is looking at issues of welfare, healthcare and so on in the United States itself.
“Although it is very early, I think the Nobel Committee probably thought that his very clear, good intentions and his very impressive promises could do with some support.”
Many commentators in the United States have also lampooned the Committee’s decision.
well said alexander..you may not be everyones favorite politician but you spoke wise words here