Less than nine months into his presidency, Barack Obama on Friday became the fourth United States president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The surprising announcement elicited a mixture of praise and criticism around the globe.
The prize has traditionally been awarded for the winner’s accomplishments, though in this case it seemed to be based more on Obama’s potential to influence world events. He took office 12 days before the committee's nomination deadline in February.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was recognizing Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." The committee stressed that it made its decision based on Obama’s efforts toward nuclear disarmament as well as American engagement with the world, and his increased reliance on diplomacy and dialogue.
But critics of the award have argued that Obama won more for his celebrity and speeches than for his actual achievements. In an official statement, Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, “The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’”
Obama said he was “deeply humbled” by the award and that he would accept it “as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century.”
Should President Obama have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?