President Barack Obama received the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee’s award for 2009 in Oslo, Norway yesterday. A lot of pro et contra has been said about this years award: “A Nobel for nothing”, “Too much too soon”, “Sorry, Obama, you don’t deserve it yet”, “Peace Prize to Obama, but it’s not his fault” etc. However even the wonder and critical American media lately have taken the Nobel Committee in defence. Like when CNN’s Fareed Zakaria rhetorically asks whether Mother Teresa abolished poverty before she got the Peace Prize. Further more he said: “Wiped Al-Baradei out nuclear weapons or did Woodrow Wilson ending all war? The prize is often given on basis of vision rather than goals achieved”.
Obama left this morning and it’s time for a bit of afterthoughts; what’s the impression – what does Norwegian think and did he convinced the people in Norway and around the world? Well, it depends on whom you ask I guess and again; not all people in Norway think the same or speaks with one tongue. It’s like other controversial matters, like death penalty or abortion: There are different opinions – in your country too (I hope!). So reading through the press tonight, here are some reactions and reflections:
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech made it:
Some says it was the best speech given in Norway and even more: this speech will go down in history as one of the truly great speeches of the Nobel Prize. Few have probably performed a Nobel speech at more convincing manner and he put it all in an ideal context, while he was talking about a real political world. He denied the gap that exists between the idealists and the realists who are very prominent in both the U.S. and in Norway which many thought was very liberating. Implicitly Obama demonstrated that he believes the war in Iraq is not a just war. By excluding the war in Iraq in his speech, Obama implied that he believes the war in Iraq is not a just war, like Afghanistan might be.
It was a wise speech in a “faded” voice – deep and principled and not a “Yes, We Can” speech – no reason for that under this circumstances. Also many pointed out that it was a good speech from the U.S. to the world. Obama for sure know how to do the right thing at the right time :-)
Continuing at the Grand Galla dinner:
In the evening, after eating reindeer fillet, smoked farm sand, fish and moose, Obama gave his toast speech – a Norwegian tradition. He opened to comment Thorbjorn Jagland – The Nobel Committee chairman’s – speech during the ceremony: “You gave a brilliant speech. I was almost convinced that I deserved award,”….. to laughter from all the guests at the Grand Hotel.
– Both my and Jagland’s message is to lift the people and things that are forgotten for up to an international level, as was done when Martin Luther King received the prize in 1964, said the president.
– The case of the civil rights movement was still uncertain, and no one was sure how it would evolve. How we thought of each other and in the minority.
– It helped to put wind behind the sails of the fight that make me and Michelle can stand here today, “said Obama.
Will we all gain from this prize?
A Norwegian journalist asked this question: How will you use the award and Obama’s answer was:
– It’s a big surprise to get the price. I have no doubt that others might have deserved it more. My task is to continue on a line that is important for the United States and a line that will ensure peace in the world: by fighting against nuclear weapons, combat climate change, creating stability in Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism.
– My goal is not to win a popularity contest or get a price.
There are still pro et contras left and the debate will go on. I think he increases his popularity in Norway and a lot of Norwegians hope he will send some more concretely and committed message to U.N. climate change meeting in Copenhagen.
My wife DianeCA, is an American who have lived in Norway for 10 years. You should also click to read her thoughts about Obama’s visit.
How about you: Did you notice that Obama was in Oslo yesterday – and the reason why?