the world woke up on Friday October 10 it was surprised that Barack
Obama had won the Nobel Prize, but surprise should not have been
a cause for derision. Instead, it should have been a cause for
national pride, but right away, many in the media raised questions
about whether it was deserved since he had been in office so few
months that he had accomplished nothing and Republicans like Michael
Steele dismissed it as “meaningless.”
agree with those who believe that the Nobel Committee’s action was
“aspirational” in the sense that it wanted Obama to continue the
course that he had set. But I also think they had concluded that
in setting a different and positive course for America that he also
exercised the kind of outstanding leadership for the global system
that merited the award.
had, in fact, turned the corner on the approach of George Bush to
the international system by announcing to the world in Berlin that
the United States would renew its collaboration with nations to
resolve important problems, rather than rattle our sabers and go
it alone. He followed up by adopting a common approach in dealing
with Iran’s nuclear capability. The surprising result is that Iran
has agreed to six-party talks in Geneva and given Russia the right
to enrich its uranium. Obama’s message to the Islamic world was
that America sees them as friends and allies rather than enemies
and that it would join them in any venture for peace of they would
open their hand in friendship rather than the hand of jihad. Then
he followed it up by adopting a negotiating framework with Iran
to address its nuclear capability and re-starting the dialogue between
Israel and the Palestinians that was dropped by Bush until the last
minutes of his time in office.
announced in Prague that the United States policy would work toward
the elimination of nuclear weapons in April of this year and followed
up in September by proposing a resolution that was adopted by the
UN Security Council and by beginning negotiations with Russia to
reduce nuclear stockpiles. He also eliminated the defensive nuclear
shield in Eastern Europe which won him instant credibility with
the Russians and their assistance in dealing with Iran’s nuclear
capability. Obama, far different from the Bush administration,
took the position that climate change was an urgent priority and
that it could not be resolved by the U. S. alone. So he followed
up by reaching out to China and other countries that have recently
industrialized and folded this priority into his own domestic policy
to create a green revolution and manage energy differently.
his own country, Obama has continued to manage the actions begun
by the Bush administration that have resulted in moving the American
financial system back from the brink of disaster and toward solvency
again. His actions have not affected a total recovery, but Obama
should be given enormous credit for trying to stabilize the banking
system, affecting a Stimulus Package to prop up areas of the economy
and start job creation, stabilize the auto industry and obtain universal
health care coverage, pull out of Iraq, reject torture and etc.
Instead, here his actions have received persistent criticism at
in nine months he has not only given some great speeches, but done
some good things to back them up. Fundamentally what we are witnessing
is the difference of opinion between American elites and Europeans
who harbor a profound dislike for the fact that George Bush ruthlessly
violated the common standards of democracy shared by his allies
and aspired to by other states in the global system.
many Americans this as a sign that there is some serious hang-over
from the Bush years. I keep reminding my readers not to forget
that 57% of whites voted for John McCain which means that an awful
lot of them were wedded to Bush politics and now feel some resentment
that the international community has repudiated them so soundly
by rewarding Barack Obama for changing course.
the many Blacks who support Obama, but also appeared surprised about
Obama’s Nobel Prize, not to understand the basis of the Nobel Committee’s
decision is a sign that they may have been so mired in the crises
that face America they have not paid much attention to the genuinely
pro-American attitudes that Barack Obama has re-kindled in Europe
and around the world.
why not join the Nobel Committee in saying “well done” so far, even
as we push the President to do better?
Editorial Board member Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished
Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership
Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (The Politics of Race and
of Michigan Press). Click here
to contact Dr. Walters.
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15 , 2009
published every Thursday
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Est. April 5, 2002
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