The peace Nobel is a much misunderstood prize. With the exception of a few really grotesque picks (Le Duc Tho, Rigoberta Menchú, Yasser Arafat), a few inspired ones (Carl von Ossietzky, Norman Borlaug, Andrei Sakharov, Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi) and some worthy if obvious ones (Martin Luther King, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk), most of the prize winners draw from the obscure ranks of the sorts of people the late Oriana Fallaci liked to call “the Goodists.”
Who are the Goodists? They are the people who believe all conflict stems from avoidable misunderstanding. Who think that the world’s evils spring from technologies, systems, complexes (as in “military-industrial”) and everything else except from the hearts of men, where love abides. Who mistake wishes for possibilities. Who put a higher premium on their own moral intentions than on the efficacy of their actions. Who champion education as the solution, whatever the problem. Above all, the Goodists are the people who like to be seen to be good…
Typical of the laments about Mr. Obama’s Nobel is that he’s done nothing yet to deserve it. But what, really, did most of the other Goodists do before they won their prizes? Mr. Obama, at least, got himself elected president, the first man to do so on explicitly Goodist terms: hope, change, diplomacy, disarmament, internationalism. He is, so to speak, the son Alfred Nobel never had (minus the dynamite fortune), the best and most significant spokesman for everything the Peace Prize has stood for these 108 years.
So let there be no doubt that the Nobel Committee did well in choosing Mr. Obama.