I very much welcome President Barack Obama to visit Norway. In fact, when Obama won the election in 2008, I sent him a short congratulatory note expressing my hope that he would visit Norway soon.
But I would have preferred that the president of the United States came to Oslo in connection with a state visit and not in the capacity as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at least not so early in his administration when he has made no achievements which could defend such an award.
The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, announced on Friday 9 October 2009 that the prize for 2009 was to be awarded to President Obama for his «extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples».
I find President Obama to be an impressive and admirable politician with the best intentions, but I share the view many have expressed so far that it is far too early for him to be awarded such a prize, especially when there are so many other – and better qualified - persons who were nominated. Now I know that it has not been uncommon in the past to award the prize as an inspiration to continue the work for peace, but good intentions and a string of vague speeches should not be enough to qualify.
So far it has been more talk than actions and results. Now I am not saying that it has only been about rhetoric so far and little or no substance, but Obama has in my opinion so far not taken that many initiatives on the world arena that make him worthy.
I am afraid that this year’s decision has only contributed to weaken the prestige of the Peace Prize even further, especially after the committee in the last few years have made so many controversial choices. The committee has become a laughing stock, something for instance comments made by Michael Binyon in The Times demonstrates. We all had deserved better.
I hope it was more than rhetoric when President Obama in his comments to being awarded the prize said that «I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations and later that «I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize».
One still wonders what one should give President Obama if he actually achieves something one day. As of now, it is too much, too soon.