The Nobel prize was obviously awarded to Obama because he was viewed as the key figure working for world peace. The U.S. had been a military cop violating ethical and legal human rights standards for the past 8 years. He made it clear during his campaign and in what he has been tying to accomplish since entering office that he is a peace-maker. This does not mean that he can control events — stop other nations resisting peace.

Israel is a prime example of a typical problem that he faces. No way are the Israelis going to stop expanding into Palestinian territories — some of the key officers of Netanyahu’s government have made it clear that they would be happy to expel the Palestinians, shuffle them around, whatever. Palestinian kids cannot even make it to school safely. With this much animosity on both sides there is no way that Obama can resolve this conflict and do more than try to limit harm, e.g. an Israeli attack on Iran which would be a disaster.

Obama has urged negotiations with the Iranians to persuade them NOT to produce nuclear weapons which would stimulate an Israeli attack. The leadership of Iran is mixed and no one can predict which way its decision makers will swing. But he is obviously going to make every effort to persuade them not to develop bombs which would produce disaster for both Israel and Iran — and those living within range of nuclear fallout.

Pakistan/Afghanistan are a dangerous conundrum. Radicals among the Pashtuns (which span both countries) are archetypal killers and enemies of peace. Despite pressures simply to rush in more troops, he has been taking time and wide counsel to figure what is best to do.

Better prospects lie with negotiations with Russia and China — the other big powers needing to be enlisted in peace-making. He has given every indication that he is trying to do so. NATO and its European members are no longer the world’s dominating power center and its countries are apparently in worse financial shape that we are according to an article in today’s NY Times.

African nations already are reaching out to Obama who Kenya considers to be its native son. He can do much to assist the Africans — both financially and in controlling corrupt and/or brutal governments. He has given every indication that he intends to do so.

Asia at large is also a challenge, but one towards which Obama looks to be reaching out. G-d save us from a Pakistan/India nuclear confrontation! And may its neighbors persuade North Korea to cool it with bomb building and rocket threats.

Presumably the Nobel committee made its award to Obama as the single most important individual working towards global peace. The attacks on him by the radical rightists in this country look to be more of the nay saying that seems to be their only policy model.

Time will tell how much success he will have. At the moment he is primarily pondering what is the best we can accomplish with the Afghan mess. With all the things on his plate these days, he and his family deserve all the moral support we can give. Hurray for the Nobel committee!

What do you think?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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