Syria 2013: Did Obama Forget He Won A Nobel Peace Prize?
When President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he was not the only one who was unsure of what exactly he had done to recieve the honor and $1.4 million prize.
"Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the commander-in-chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars," Obama said in his acceptance speech.
The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee, however, said awarding Obama the peace prize could be seen as an early vote of confidence in the new president's policies and heralded his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
"Some people say — and I understand it — 'Isn't it premature? Too early?' Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now," Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
Jagland was right.
Four years later, the president who won the peace prize less than nine months after his inauguration is now deciding to launch possible military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the U.S. accused Assad's forces of using chemical weapons against civilians last week. His current approach to Syria and aggressive policies since the award in 2009 make him a poor representation of a nobel peace prize winner now more than ever.
At the time of his award, there were mixed emotions of surprise that they new president received such a prize and hope that the new president would live up to his promise to bring home the troops and usher in a new era of peace and international diplomacy. But today, his foreign policies and approach to "safeguarding national security" have been anything but peaceful.
His presidency has seen a widened use of drones and other instruments of remote killing in Pakistan and multiple covert attacks in Yemen and Somalia. Gathering with approximately a hundred members of his national security team on "Terror Tuesday," the president goes over a secret "kill list" handpicking the next national security threat to die through the drone program. His military budget spending is greater than the next 10 highest defense budgets in the world combined and now he faces a controversial decision of whether to go to war with Syria.
Whether his policies are warranted or not, they are certainly not characteristics of a Nobel Peace prize candidate, let alone a laureate.
Some critics are even suggesting that he should return his Nobel Prize should the U.S. go to war with Syria.
"There's a growing sense that the Nobel Peace Prize has been tarnished by the award to Obama," said Norman Solomon, whose website RootAction.org launched a petition earlier this year for Obama to return the peace prize. "What's next? Are we going to give a nutrition award to McDonalds?"
The RootAction petition to the Norwegian Nobel committee calling on for Obama's award to be revoked has received more than 24,000 signatures already.
"One must walk the walk of peace, not just talk the talk of peace in order to earn the Peace Prize," wrote Paul M. from Los Angeles, CA who signed the online petition.
Despite poor support from allies and little public support for U.S. involvement in another foreign conflict, Obama is adamant that U.S. and world credibility is currently on the line.
When asked by a Swedish reporter earlier today about the dilemma of being a Nobel Prize winner while preparing to attack Syria, Obama simply reiterated that he was "certainly unworthy" of the prize but went back to his acceptance speech in 2009 where he "described the challenge all of us face, when we believe in peace but we confront a world that is full of violence." He also argued that "The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing."
"I can't avoid those questions," said Obama. "Because as much as we are criticized, when bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is, what is the United States going to do about it?"
The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award Obama the peace prize four years ago based on the hope that his soaring rhetoric of peace, diplomacy and global cooperation would follow through.
So far, he has failed to live up to it.