Well, I understand I have been wasting my time. Almost everyone acknowledged that the decision by the Nobel Committee to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama is going to be controvercial.

Why unnecessarily add on to the controversy? I have done enough on it on Twitter already.

But as I read more on that, a more fundamental question comes on the relevance of the question that Thorbjorn Jagland asked in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.

And to do objectively, we need to unbias ourselves first (true, we already have formed ‘biased’ or ‘sensible’ opinion on that).

Can we go back less than 24 hours and ask ourselves the question that the Nobel Committee asked without knowing who the winner is/would be? 

Quoting from Thorbjorn Jagland, the Nobel Committee’s chairman:

  1. “The question we have to ask is, ‘Who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world?'”
  2. And in justifying the award to President Obama, Mr. Jagland stated: ‘And who has done more than Obama. It’s important for the Committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic…, but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik.’

1st question is: about the relevance of the question itself. Presidents, Prime-Ministers, country-heads are always in a position to do more in enhancing world peace by not declaring irresponsible wars (simply by not becoming irresponsible). And when it comes to the sole superpower of the world, it’s something obvious.

Please don’t get me wrong: Isn’t the question similar to one where the most powerful man in the world say I deserve the prize because I didn’t beat/kill many? Whereas the weakests ones may be struggling in remote parts, under the leadership of someone who is as ordinary as most of us but has raised to extra-ordinary levels of humanity, against powerful evils,  to take on the oppressor against all odds by non-violent means. It may not have global implications, but globally people recognized that leadership and take inspiration from that in solving disputes similar in a similar fashion.

Doesn’t it again set the tone that after every irresponsible war led by the superpower, whenever there is a change in Government, the incumbent gets the award? Forgive me if I am sounding same here with the often repeated comparison of not being Bush.

And on the point on ‘struggling and idealistic’ as a justification? Obama ‘struggling’ to get Nuclear Disarmament? Then Japan, India or even Iran (their heads of states) deserve it much more. And on ‘idealistic’?  Less is said on that is better as the comparison would be again as that of ‘Miss Universe’.

‘Enhancing peace’ can be done by by two broad means: (1) Struggling for peace (humanity) by the powerless against unjust things of the powerful and probably against all odds, and (2) supporting peace by not engaging in violent things that one is capable of by being powerful (or has been the legacy of that entity in past).

Assuming I am not changing the fundamental question that Nobel Committee asked deliberately, let readers decide whether President Obama indeed came anywhere close to deserving the coveted Nobel Peace Prize this year.

I can’t help but add for people who still decide on Obama on above: if that question is the same that the Nobel Committee asked, can you name one who probably deserves the Nobel Peace Prize not only for his/her work in the previous year, but probably for all the years since 1960s.

I can only think of Vasiliy Arkhipov – the Captain of the Nuclear Sub-Marine that didn’t fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wikipedia states: ‘Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said that “a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”

As people debated on how Obama got the nomination within 10-12 days  of taking office or for being in office for around 9 months or so, which probably is too soon if one takes the cause one stands for; this man Arkhipov deserved same for his momentary decision. And it was not intention, it indeed did ‘save’ the world.

With all due respect to Alfred Nobel, the prize and the inspirational club that the Peace Prize boasts of (barring a few exceptions, and here exceptions even now are truly exceptions and not the norm), this award is nothing but exceptional.

Ranjit is the author of Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d. He supported Obama in the early phase of his Presidential Campaign.

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