Everyone on the Right says President Obama hasn't earned the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. It's as if they have set themselves up as its sole arbiters.
Some on the Left even echo this sentiment. Jesse Berney, writing on Huffington Post, states that the prize "should be the culmination of a career devoted to the cause of building a better world."
The "culmination of a career?" Says who? Not Alfred Nobel, and he ought to know.
In his own will, written at Paris in 1895 and reproduced on the official Nobel website, he laid out the standard to be applied in annually awarding each of the five original prizes (physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace). For the Peace Prize, he wrote that it should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
There are some years where the prize may best fit an individual who has spent decades in the trenches without the full imprimatur that such an international accolade bestows. A "lifetime achievement award," so to speak. In other years, it may best apply to efforts from the preceding 12 months. To repeat: it's an annual prize.
The committee of five that names the winner each year reflects the various political factions composing the Norwegian Parliament. Currently, one of the five is from the Conservative Party; another from the far-right Progress Party. Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, noted Friday that the choice of Obama was unanimous.
Removing the bluster of the George Bush years was a centerpiece pledge of Obama's campaign for the presidency, and in office he has sought to fulfill that promise. He's delivered a major address in Cairo, he's sent a former president to meet with Kim Jong-il in North Korea, and he's pursuing long overdue negotiations with the recalcitrant regime in Iran. He's also winding down the mess in Iraq and searching for a serious solution in Afghanistan, something his predecessor didn't give a damn about.
No one else on the world's stage has been such a "game changer" this year, or lived up to Alfred Nobel's lofty words from a century ago.
All Americans should be honored.