Well, that didn’t take long. In an interview with the Associated Press, Geil Lundestad, the former director of the Nobel Institute that awarded Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, says that he regrets giving Obama the prize:
Looking back over Mr. Obama’s presidency, Mr. Lundestad said, granting him the award did not fulfill the committee’s expectations.
“[We] thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect,” he told the Associated Press in an interview.
The award so early in his term appeared to take the Obama White House by surprise, and Mr. Lundestad said U.S. officials privately asked if a Nobel Prize-winner had ever skipped the awards ceremony.
Normally the Nobel committee’s decision regarding recipients remains private, and Mr. Lundestad’s frank and revealing remarks regarding internal decisions have caused a stir in Norway, detailing the politicking and compromises that have gone into determining the annual laureate.
Lundestad and the Nobel committee apparently thought that giving Obama the Peace Prize would encourage him to be the kind of president who deserved such an honor. Their hopes were never realized. Though Obama campaigned on the premise of peace, he has been every bit as much of a war hawk as his predecessors, increasing the use of drone strikes, expanding the wars in the Middle East, and doing nothing to forward nuclear disarmament.
Many of us, including most officials at the White House, were wondering what Obama could have done in only one year of presidency to have earned a Nobel Peace Prize. It turns out that he didn’t get the award based on what he had already done, but on the hope of what he could do. But he never got around to it.
Perhaps this can be a lesson not to give merit-based awards out on the promise of merit, but only on their actual accomplishment. That should have been a no-brainer. Now the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize stands as nothing more than an ironic monument to political shortsightedness.