Nobel Peace before the War ?
President Obama must have gone to bed last night with various wearying thoughts - choosing the best strategy for the Afghan conflict, finding common ground between the Israelis and Palestinians, the economy and its mysterious ways, resolving the healthcare stalemate - and hoping that the phone doesn't actually ring at 3 a.m.
Yet, this morning greeted him with unprecedented shock when he learnt that he was the Nobel Peace prize winner, just nine months into his job, and with possibly seven more years to go, provided he doesn't get swung out of office by the swing states at the end of his first term.
The Nobel Committee has long established a reputation for being somewhat cuckoo. They didn't consider Gandhi a worthy recipient, to give an example. I faintly recall Mohd Yunus, telling an interviewer shortly after his prize was announced something like - that while Economics may have been a more appropriate category, he was thankful to Peace for reaching him first. But I deviate.
What is the President thinking this morning? Boy, did I oversell this 'hope' thing or what. I mean, they've awarded me the Peace Prize for the hope of peace. The recipients in the other categories this year - all with stellar achievements - probably spent a lifetime hoping for their award. Or past peace recipients - Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela - no one needing someone to actually elaborate why they deserved the prize.
So, he wonders, what is my current claim to acclaim? According to the Committee: for my "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." They also attached special importance to my vision of (48 and I still don't need specs) and work for a world without nuclear weapons. I have set the ball in motion on a lot of significant things, actually - most are deadlocked for want of consensus (a must in my rule book) - nothing achieved yet, and I won me a Nobel Peace prize?
I worry a lot. But today, I worry especially for ex-President Bill Clinton. Are his quadruple bypasses going to choke in outrage? After all, he too came into his presidency staring into an Israeli-Palestinian conflict and spent the rest of his 8 years trying to come to some workable peace - into the aftermath of an Iraq war succeeding a president with the last name Bush - aiming for global nuclear disarmament with treaties like the comprehensive test ban treaty and the fissile materials cut off treaty - and reaching historic diplomatic highs with the ever devious and reclusive North Korea. I can almost taste the bile rising in his throat. 911 better be on stand-by for him.
So, I have won Peace even before waging my wars? Then what's going to happen when I finally say, we need 40,000 more troops to shoot every Taliban including those not yet conceived? Or when I say enough is enough to Iran or North Korea - you deserve to get Tomahawk cruise-missiled? Will peace derive new meaning? Or will people roll their eyes and say, well, Arafat went on to violent Intifada and Israel, to bombing Palestine. So Obama's gone on to a little bombing of his own. All in keeping with the tradition of Nobel Peace.