Geir Lundestad writes in a book to be released on Thursday that the committee had expected the prize to deliver a boost to Obama. Instead the award was met with fierce criticism in the U.S., where many argued Obama had not been president long enough to have an impact worthy of the Nobel.
“Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake,” Lundestad wrote in excerpts of the book read by The Associated Press. “In that sense the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.”
Lundestad, who stepped down last year after 25 years as the non-voting secretary of the secretive committee, noted that Obama was startled by the award and that his staff even investigated whether other winners had skipped the prize ceremony in Oslo…
Speaking to AP on Wednesday, Lundestad said he didn’t disagree with the decision to award the president but the committee “thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect.”
I’m surprised he’s surprised that the reaction in the U.S. at the time was so dismal. For Democrats, the Nobel was a bit of unwelcome extra pressure from international elites for Hopenchange to meet impossibly high peacemaking expectations. For Republicans, it was proof that global Obamamania had nothing to do with actual accomplishments as well as an obvious bid to seduce Obama into conforming with the European left’s views of what “responsible American leadership” might look like. Which, by the way, worked pretty well, didn’t it? There are lots of items on O’s presidential resume that one would think a Nobel committee member would see as “strong.” Making a horrible deal with fanatics in the name of diplomacy that’s destined to lead to more war long-term is strong Nobel material. (Just ask John Kerry.) So is withdrawing American troops from Iraq, even if it meant creating a power vacuum for barbarians to fill. Ditto for refusing to use U.S. military might to enforce “red lines” against WMDs, whether or not that emboldened bad actors like Assad to challenge international norms of war. And of course O has been very strong in eschewing American military occupations, leaving newly liberated states to sink into anarchy.
Apart from droning the occasional terrorist, he’s exactly the sort of guy the Nobel committee hoped he’d be. For cripes sake, he just set a terrorist state that fantasizes about wiping Israel off the map on a 15-year path to nuclear weapons. I’m surprised they haven’t given him a second Nobel yet.