Today the internet and cable news have exploded with discussions about President Obama winning The Nobel Peace Prize. People are wondering why he won. That’s not a hard question to answer. I went to the website of The Nobel Peace Prize (nobelprize.org) and found the committee’s statements about their decision.

Feel free to agree or disagree with their thinking, but base your discussion on what a group of five guys in Oslo say and not what you think the prize should be given for or what some pundit says who didn’t take the time to read the committee’s words.

Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Oslo, October 9, 2009

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Time for Hope

Incumbent Presidents have quite frequently been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were Laureates while in office, as for instance, were Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev of the USSR and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea. There have also been current Prime Ministers (Yitzhak Rabin of Israel) and Chancellors (Willy Brandt of the Federal Republic of Germany), but never before has anyone been made a Peace Laureate so early into their term of office. Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a little under 10 months after he took up residence in the White House. Nominations for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize closed just 11 days after he took office.

Barack Obama is the fourth US President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the last being Jimmy Carter in 2002. In selecting him, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which consists of five people appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, or Storting, appear to be endorsing Obama’s appeal for greater multilateral cooperation aimed at tackling the thorniest global problems; conflict, nuclear weapons, climate change. They highlight his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy, and the new climate of dialogue and negotiation that Obama is promoting. Emphasis is also placed on renewed US commitment to international organizations, in particular the United Nations.

The section of Alfred Nobel’s will detailing the creation of the Peace Prize states that it should be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” In answer to questions during the announcement press conference about how early in Obama’s Presidency the award was being made, Thorbjørn Jagland replied that the Committee wanted to demonstrate its support for the approaches he is taking towards global problems.

By Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Nobelprize.org