Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama Nobel Peace Prize premature. An award Obama did not seek


August, 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya: Then Sen. Barack Obama, wife Michelle, daughters Sasha, Malia and other children help plant tree with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--How can this great honor given to President Obama on Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize, be seen through American lenses as anything but premature? Obama gets the prize less than nine months into his presidency, on the very day he is meeting with his war cabinet--his national security team--to wrestle with ongoing battles in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama said throughout his campaign that the very fact of his election would restore America's image in the world. The United State standing as a superpower was destroyed by President Bush's invasion of Iraq, disbelief about climate change and criticism of the role of the United Nations.

In other words, Obama was not Bush, and the Norweigan Nobel Peace Prize Committee (the Swedes decide the other Nobel winners) must have been particularly dazzled by Obama's promise. Nominations for the prize closed on Feb. 1 and Obama was sworn into office on Jan. 20.

It's just astounding to consider that Obama, with less than two weeks in office, was nominated for the prize and went on to win it with so little yet accomplished. It's also a message to naysayers to who said that Obama's trip to Copenhagen a week ago today to pitch Chicago's 2016 bid for the Olympic summer games diminished his international standing because his hometown city came in last.

Obama travels to Oslo in December to accept the prize.

A surprise loss with the Olympics. A stunning win with the Nobel prize.

Obama's incredible rise--five years ago today Obama was still an Illinois state senator--has been blessed by people projecting their expectations on him. He has been a magnet for true believers who pinned their aspirations, hopes and dreams on him. When Obama was a freshman U.S. senator, he joked during his 2006 keynote to a Gridiron Club dinner, "When I actually do something, we'll let you know."

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee justified the 108-year-old prize because the panel said in a statement it "attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

"Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.

"Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Domestically, winning the Nobel prize just gives Obama critics ammunition.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement, "The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain - President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action."

Obama won the prize senior advisor David Axelrod said he did not seek. But he has the Nobel Peace Prize. Now he has to live up to it.


I thought people won the Nobel Peace Prize for actually doing something not talking about doing something!

Chicagoans more than most should know a gift comes with strings. For an American President to be played by the Nobel committee does not serve Obama, the United States, or hopes for a more Peaceful World well at all.

I would hope that President Obama spent some time trying to bring peace to the streets of Chicago.
We deserve his assistance!

Pres Obama deserves this prize for apologizing for America & minimizing her power in the world.

Once again, the Nobel Peace Prize committee perpetrates another sham by awarding its prize to a President who has done exactly SQUAT to achieve World Peace. The award is meaningless and as yet unjustifiable. We are still at war in Afghanistan, not yet out of Iraq, unable to solve the Iran and North Korea issues, and show no signs of making progress in resolving the Israeli-Arab impasse. Yet, to simply send a message and perhaps influence Obama’s decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan, it cheapens the award into yet another political ploy. For example, President Reagan was the key transformational figure of the 20th Century (since FDR) who ended the Cold War, freeing upwards of 150 million people from Communist tyranny. His actions in Central America were a part of ending that tyranny – fighting Cuban and Soviet belligerents and freeing more people. Yet, in 1988, Reagan was nominated but it was given to Gorbachev instead because Oslo “did not want to influence the US presidential process” (election). Once again, yet another politically-motivated slap at a Conservative (and one of our greatest) President for not thinking like a European Liberal. What a Pathetic Politically-Motivated Sham.

W ho voted for him! Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck???

When a man becomes president, yet remains loyal to his city by traveling to work for 315, 000 jobs and his homwtown's prestige to win the Olympics, he is working for the city of Chicago. Ditto, when he sends his education secretary and his Attorney General to respond to a young person's beating death and violence against young people.
And to the President's achievements: Look at America's global standing during Bush/Cheney and after President Obama's first day's stand against torture; his push to pass the Ledbetter Act. (Equal pay (means equal dignity) for women; his tacit recognition that the U.S. invaded and occupied and is responsible for the deaths of more than a million Muslims, and hence, attention and repair was warranted.( Cairo speech: try reading it!) Critics might want to read the Nobel announcement, as to the Committee's reasons, and then, do a bit more research on exactly what the non-proliferation and climate change initiatives Obama is proposing are, and why. If you cannot do the research, if you claim he got the Nobel for doing nothing, you belie your own ignorance.
Connie Allenbury

people also get Nobel Peace Prizes for what they represent.

the fact that Barack Obama was even elected as President of the United States of America is a miricle. this country, as racist as it is, saw fit to select this man and put him in this position proves that he is certainly a special individual.

And it was largely White votes responsible for putting him into office. And Whites voted for this Black man because they saw -- and many still see -- him as a transformational agent of change. people of all races relate to him because he relates to everyone, regardless of their color.

he earned this Nobel Prize.

people who are always eager to discredit him, heckle him and say "YOU LIE," and try to deminish his accomplsihments should have a long talk with their hearts.

hate is not a healthy emotion.

instead of trying to discredit the President of the United States, why not work towards making positive changes of your own.

Meet the People Who Were Passed Over for Obama
Sima Samar, women's rights activist in Afghanistan: "With dogged persistence and at great personal risk, she kept her schools and clinics open in Afghanistan even during the most repressive days of the Taliban regime, whose laws prohibited the education of girls past the age of eight. When the Taliban fell, Samar returned to Kabul and accepted the post of Minister for Women's Affairs."

Ingrid Betancourt: French-Colombian ex-hostage held for six years.

"Dr. Denis Mukwege: Doctor, founder and head of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. He has dedicated his life to helping Congolese women and girls who are victims of gang rape and brutal sexual violence."

Handicap International and Cluster Munition Coalition: "These organizations are recognized for their consistently serious efforts to clean up cluster bombs, also known as land mines. Innocent civilians are regularly killed worldwide because the unseen bombs explode when stepped upon."

"Hu Jia, a human rights activist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, who was sentenced last year to a three-and-a-half-year prison term for 'inciting subversion of state power.'"

"Wei Jingsheng, who spent 17 years in Chinese prisons for urging reforms of China's communist system. He now lives in the United States."

I agree, Lynn. I voted for Obama, and glad I did, but this makes no sense.

It's astonishing how Americans still find yet another reason not to stand behind OUR PRESIDENT.

Many previous Nobel Peace Prize winners won the prize on what they stood for --even when the realization of their principles had not come to fruition.

MLK won for his efforts to promote peace in ending racism but do we dare say that he had eliminated racism when he won the award? Do we dare to even say that racism has been eliminated 40 years later? But are we willing to dimish his effort?

Economist Muhammad Yunus won the prize for his efforts to eliminate poverty in Bangladesh but do we minimize or question his credibility because poverty has not been completely eliminated in third world countries where he has tried to make an impact?

The answer is no.

The purpose of the award is to commend people for making great strides to promote and encourage peace around the world. Reading these comments and this editorial makes me realize (even more) the importance of such people who actually TRY to change the world because too many of us just sit around complaining and do nothing.


Doesn't matter what any columnist opinion; what people say to diminish or discredit this Nobel Peace Prize given to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES------he received it. Your opinoin doesn't matter..."

President Obama won the Nobel Peace prize. I am happy for him and our country. His critics are never going to like him or his accomplishments. America is destroying itsef from within. The disrespect of our leader is a travesty and the critics need to get over the fact that he is our elected President. I wonder if the statement Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said was approved by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Those are the leaders of the Republican party.

It still appears that there are quite a few President Obama detractors out there. People who are of the mind that it they say something often enough and try to believe it hard enough----it will somehow come to be true. All of the Obama haters can knock themselves out discrediting him. But, he is still the president of the United States and he still received the Nobel Peace Prize----Get over it!

On the next Oprah Winfrey Show: YOU get a Nobel Prize! And YOU get a Nobel Prize! And YOU get a Nobel Prize! And YOU get a Nobel Prize! And ... "


While it was a shock and some say it's premature, I think he deserves it for opening up the US to be a responsible player on the world scene, and for setting a new tone......realistically, it's definitely an incentive to action. It was given not so much for solving every world crisis, but instead for setting a new direction, tone, and approach for all of us to help solve those supposedly unsolveable issues. He was given the prize for giving new life to Hope.



Someone in Oslo REALLY dislikes Obama and pushed through this foolish award. It is a knife in his back. If he accepts it it will be the mark in time which historians will point back to as the point at which his presidency is judged a failure. Imagine, he's standing on the stage accepting the award - or refusing the award - after he has sent another 20, 40 or 60 thousand troops into Afganistan. Or he's denied more troops to his generals and the Afgan war is turning into "Chaos-istan". Either way he looses. Either way he looks like a child over-his-head in the affairs of grown-ups. Good luck Obama and good luck Dems in 2010.

I react more to Michael Steele's comments then your report. If anything, the President of the US is starting to undo the mess left by Bush.

The prise is early, but the goals being stated so far are working toward a better America and a better world.

The prize maybe just a token recognition that we are headed in a better direction then the last 8 -30 years.

Maybe more people will be again part of the middle class. Maybe more students will get a better education. Maybe more will volunteer for their community. Maybe we will work together and find a direction for better understanding of everyones desire to have a family and pass on to their kids and grandkids a time when we turned the corner to save this small planet.


This is great news. I am very happy that he won. It is especially fun reading all the haters comments.

To Mark Q. Re Reagan: The president who began deregulation that brought you 2 decades later the Wall Street Meltdown? You 'conservatives'above all people should have a little respect for perspective, patience and cause and effect. As for Central America, you might want to read a diff. slant on that history, vis-a-vis Reagan. Ditto, Cold War. Ever heard of a guy named Lech? Or Pope John Paul II? Without Gorbie's ideas, namely 2: (look them up) there would have been no end to "the Cold War" which was an invention to begin with. As to the politics of the prize, naturally, the Nobel Peace Committee is trying to influence another war escalation: peace is their business, just as war (and bombs, killing, and money, ur, excuse me, I mean "success" ) is McCyrstal's business.

I think this a definite case of the Chickens being counted before they are hatched.

Time will tell but at this point all I can say is that I will definitely look at the Nobel Prizes a little more cynically than I have in the past. I'm not too sure they mean as much to be today as they once did.

I voted for him and I can see why the Nobel committee gave him the award because at least he is willing to work with other nations, instead of acting like a cowboy.

To heck with the naysayers, you're all just nattering nabobs of negativity and envious that many people throughout the world look up to him.

The temporary current resident of our Oval Office gets a Nobel Peace Prize for having a "vision" of a world without nuclear weapons. I have a "vision" of a world without gravity so that I can fly over the city's traffic.

The decision by the committee was ludicrous. Of course, so was its prior decisions to give the prize to Yassar "murdering thug" Arafat, and Jimmy "444 days held hostage" Carter.

The "prize he did not seek?" Barack "all about me" Obama?


I can understand the Obama supporters approving this award, but the fact is the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize had to be submitted by Feb. 1st.

The President was in office for exactly twelve (12) days.

Do you think the President accomplished anything of note in his first twelve days that warranted this award?

I can understand the Obama supporters approving this award, but the fact is the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize had to be submitted by Feb. 1st.

The President was in office for exactly twelve (12) days.

Do you think the President accomplished anything of note in his first twelve days that warranted this award?

Well said RBT. Obama fought the battle for peace from the cottages of Hawaii to the quad at Harvard.
The award is a sham and it is only awarded for political reasons.

Is our country this messed up that we can't congratulate a good man for something that he didn't even campaign for? Are we that miserable that we can't celebrate the accomplishments of others, even if we don't agree with them? And we wonder why we have the problems that we do? This is a sad commentary on the state of our nation.

If my son did that after a soccer match, I would say that he was a bad sport. Have we become a nation of "bad sports"?

For those ignorant enough to cite: stands against torture (which every President has made, yet all - including Obama - must continue to allow for National Security), Ledbetter Act (economics - nothing to do with World Peace), "tacit recognition" of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and killing Moslums (1) there is no extant casualty figure of Muslim deaths, so this is a lie; 2) We wouldn't be at War if Clinton/Dems had done what they should have done in the 90s and addressed the rise of Terrorism; 3) Obama never admitted to any US wrong-doing, only problems in US policy approach (Cairo speech: try re-reading it!) non-proliferation (Reagan advocated and advanced this far more than Obama has even tried to yet) and climate change (nothing to do with World Peace) - you are simply too stupid (in between bouts of Obama Kool-Aid consumption) to objectively assess this, and too pompous and childish to know it. Your ignorance is almost supernatural. This is a pathetic attempt to manipulate US Afgh/Middle Eastern policy by European Liberals with a huge economic interest to see us leave. This was a political ploy. Even Obama knows he didn't deserve it.

" Have we become a nation of "bad sports"?

No Greg, we haven't.

What we have become is very cynical when it comes to politicians. I had high hopes for Mr. Obama because I thought he would hit the ground running, with the best and brightest staff to support him. So far, from my perspective, we have the same group running the White House that were part of politics in Chicago; we have a president who flits all over the world giving speeches without much follow-through; we have a country more mired in debt than any of us ever wanted to comprehend; and we have elected a president and his wife with just a touch more arrogance than the average American is comfortable with. This Nobel Prize award for future performance will surely add to the arrogance but whether it is justifiable will now be an ever-present condition of this presidency.

The award was given the day that Foreign Minister Lieberman of Israel stated there will be no peace in the Holy land for many years.
President Obama has not accomplished anything as of this moment and he should reject the prize at the current time.

my first thought was that maybe they're making up for Chicago not getting the Olympics

Politicians have always been good at making promises but often falling short on the delivery of them.

Giving President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize is premature and I think most people realize it -even the President himself.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 9, 2009 10:10 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Oct. 9, 2009. Wins Nobel Peace Prize. Meets with war cabinet was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama says "surprised and deeply humbled" by the Nobel Peace Prize is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.