Friday, 9 October 2009

Peace Oscar Awarded To Obama

As much as I approve of Barack Obama's attempts to foster greater diplomacy among the world's nations I'm actually a bit shocked that he has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The announcement only highlights the flawed concept on which the prize is based.

Surely it undermines the institute's reputation to take such an overtly political stance based on his intentions rather than any solid results - as committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland admitted "It was because we would like to support what [Obama] is trying to achieve" - in other words, not what he has achieved after a whole eight months on the world stage.

Just like the Oscars were always a means of marketing the industry establishment on behalf of the American Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Science, so too the Nobel Institute's premier award is designed to actively promote the political ideology of the global establishment.

It is the highly perverse nature of prizes which supposedly recognise the highest achievement in their field but are confined to giving the awards out on an annual basis - this creates an arbitrary and artificial standard where the level of competition is assumed to be the same every year and creates false expectations around the winners as well as devaluing the wider conception of the means and purposes of competition.

Should Rocky or Titanic be conferred equal status with Gandhi and The Godfather? And do they deserve the status when other timeless classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Metropolis weren't even nominated?

Equally, the Nobel Peace Prize is a product of establishment politics and has become a weapon to be harnessed for those political ends.

So what will happen next year if Obama is successful in spreading the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Will he be awarded the medal, diploma and 10m Kronor again? And the year after?

It would have been far wiser to exercise a little patience and discretion by judging the evidence rather than build up unrealistic expectations about what achievements are possible.

Maybe Obama will be deserving of the award in a few years time (when he's heading into a re-election campaign the publicity and it will be of far more practical use to him), but it seems the distinguished members of the committee are prone to getting star-struck and indulging in a bit of wishful thinking.

I just hope they aren't setting him - and themselves - up for a fall.


Global reactions to the prize.

OH and CF also offer some strong blog reactions, unsurprisingly.
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