Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Nobel No Prize

Nobel Peace Prize as much a burden as an honour for US President

As various leftist sychophants continue to preen over US President Barack Obama recently being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the lion's share of the commentary over the matter seems to revolve around whether or not Obama actually deserves the prize.

Almost certainly, he doesn't -- not yet, not even by the specious line of reasoning used by Rachel Maddow.

But even under the questionable reasons given for awarding the prize to Obama -- encouraging him to embrace diplomacy over American force -- the award committee hasn't truly done Obama any favours. In fact, as Andrew Cohen posits, the "promisary note" award may actually prove to be a millstone around Obama's neck.

In many ways, it turned out to be precisely that for Lester Pearson, who received his Nobel Peace Prize before ever becoming leader of the Liberal party, let alone Prime Minister:
"...The prize may have been the worst thing that ever happened to Mike Pearson. To many it turned him into a peacemaker and a pacifist. It conjured up an enduring image of a toga-clad high priest atop a stony mountain, uttering mystical mantras into the winds.

Pearson was just embarking on a feverish decade as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. Twice, in both roles, the prize would come to haunt him.

In 1963, Pearson reversed his party's stand and agreed to accept the deployment of US nuclear weapons in Canada. It was a political master-stroke that helped split John Diefenbaker's Conservatives and propel the Liberals to power that spring.

But Pearson angered his party's left wing. His critics couldn't believe that a Nobel laureate could countenance nuclear weapons. An angry Pierre Trudeau famously called him 'the defrocked prince of peace' and refused to run as a Liberal that year.

In 1965, as prime minister, Pearson came under pressure to urge Lyndon Johnson to end the bombing of Vietnam. The question arose: how could our poster boy of peace remain silent during the greatest aerial bombardment in history?

Once again, Pearson acted as a conscientious, practical politician, not as a pacifist. He had long tried to contain 'thermo-nuclear weapons,' as he called them, but believed that Canada had to honour its commitment to accept them as a member of NATO, which he had helped conceive and shape in 1949.

He opposed the war in Vietnam and gave a contentious speech in Philadelphia proposing a halt in the bombing. For his trouble he was picked up and dressed down by LBJ the next day. Ever the pragmatist, Pearson then went silent in public, worried about damaging relations between the two countries.
Pearson's experience demonstrates that the kind of expectations produced by a Nobel Peace Prize win can create expectations that would, if satisfied, permanently divorce that individual from realism. Moreover, observing diplomacy just for the sake of diplomacy can often paint a leader into a corner in which they can't criticize the actions of another country for fear of offending them.

For Barack Obama, the problems of living up to the expectations set for him by a Nobel Peace Prize are obvious. They are the same as the problems of living up to the expectations set for him by the progressive movement that so deftly delivered him to power in the first place.

If Obama continues -- as he must -- to prosecute either of the two wars his country is currently engaged in (and abandoning Afghanistan is simply not an option for him) he will certainly disappoint many members of the global "peace" movement who believe his Nobel Peace Prize should provide the impetus for retirement from the field of battle.

Obama is almost certain to disappoint and anger a great number of people no matter what he does from here on out.

At the very least, however, the Rachel Maddows of the world, suffering from the sycophantic strain of Derangement Syndrome, will still applaud no matter what.

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