IgNobel (Cont'd)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 10, 2009

Some more reactions to the exceedingly premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama:

1. My colleague Benjamin Kerstein tears asunder the rationales for giving Obama the award. The whole thing deserves reading, but the following excerpt deserves to be singled out for its properly acidic tone to this entire ridiculous spectacle:

The punchline is easy enough to find, since it is contained in the will of Alfred Nobel himself, who established the peace prize with the stipulation that it should be given “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” One assumes that the phrase “done the most or the best work” implies very strongly that the price should be awarded to someone who has actually accomplished something. In all fairness, this has usually been the case with Nobel laureates. There is no denying that the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Jane Addams, Ralph Bunche, Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrei Sakharov, Mother Theresa, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, and Lech Walesa, among many others, actually did manage to do things like conclude peace treaties, expose or bring down tyrannical governments, and contribute to the health and prosperity of others on a large scale.

Obama, by contrast, has precisely two concrete accomplishments to his credit: letting the military do its job with a handful of Somali pirates, and pumping enormous amounts of money into the American economy, thus far with inconclusive results. At best, the jury is still out on everything else he has attempted. On the issues that tend to interest the Nobel committee, this particularly apparent. His engagement of the Iranians has lead nowhere; his efforts toward peace in the Middle East have proved an embarrassing failure; his pledge to reverse Bush-era security policies and close Guantanamo Bay has been, ironically, reversed; the withdrawal from Iraq is precarious; he has snubbed fellow peace prize-winner the Dalai Lama; in regard to Darfur, North Korea, Pakistan, and other trouble spots, he has done nothing; he has made no decision whatsoever in regard to Afghanistan, and will most likely pursue not peace but an escalated war; and his relationship to European leaders is already deeply strained, to the point that the president of France, of all places, has criticized him for being too soft on the Iranian issue. Given all this, it is difficult to conclude that the Nobel committee’s decision is anything other than the final nail in the coffin of Obamamania, a “we’re bigger than Jesus” moment scripted like the final scene from Duck Soup, with the committee and all who sail in her replacing the “Hail Freedonia!”-singing matron being pelted with mud by the Marx Brothers.

2. Of course, Andrew Sullivan would uncritically laud Obama’s selection. Dan McLaughlin tears down Barack Obama’s one-man fan club.

3. A further roundtable from my colleagues. Chris Badeaux’s snark is entirely merited.

4. More worthy candidates for the Peace Prize who got passed over for the political equivalent of the Jonas Brothers. Not mentioned in that list, but infinitely more deserving of a Peace Prize are the Iranian reformists who bravely resisted–and continue to resist–against a stolen election, a tyrannical government, and the employment of violence to repress voices of freedom in Iran.

5. Meet the chairman of the Nobel Committee. Here is some of what he is famous for:

The tenure of Jagland’s cabinet was marked by controversies. . . . Minister of Planning Terje Rød Larsen was forced to resign after 35 days, after it was learned he had failed to pay all his taxes after receiving an option pay-out in 1986. . . . Jagland, and Rød Larsen’s successor, Bendik Rugaas, were widely ridiculed for their visions about “the Norwegian House”. . . . This was a metaphor Jagland illustrated to present his vision of Norway. In his speech to the Storting following his appointed, Jagland described the Norwegian House as a foundation with four pillars. The foundation represented, “the collective value creation within the ecologically sustainable society”. The four pillars that hold up the house were business and labour policy; welfare policy; research and educational policy; and foreign and security policy. Jagland stated that everyone had something to contribute regarding the creation of the house; in particular he stated that the cabinet would cooperate with the opposition to reach these goals. In his speech, Jagland said that he would not deviate much from Harlem Bruntland’s policies, but that he would increase the focus on violence, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and crime, including improvement of preventative measures and the courts. He also stated that it was important to introduce information technology in all parts of the education system. As part of the construction of the Norwegian House, the cabinet also started to appoint lay councils, with expertese [sic] within their fields, that would provide them with feedback and inputs on important areas in society. Jagland stated that the purpose was to allow critical voices close access to the political decisions, and increase the number of ideas generated at a political level.[11] Jagland stated in August 2008 that, “the Norwegian House could have been better planned and prepared, but I did not have the time. I took a chance. The Labour Party was down for the count. My goal was to make a good election; and we did. We have not done so well since”. . . . Jagland said in an interview, “I still get letters from people who miss the Norwegian House. It was an attempt at something new, a building project that would also inspire the activity on the side of the parties”. . . .

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Grete Faremo resigned following the secret police investigation of Berge Furre, which occurred during her period as Minister of Justice. . . . Jagland fronted the opposition to raise pensions for the elderly, describing it as “nauseating”. In August, a former Soviet spy described Jagland as a friendly politician during the 1970s and 80s. Jagland said he held diplomatic talks with the Soviet unions and that all the conversations were innocent exchanges between them. . . . He was classified as a “confidential contact” by the Committee for State Security (KGB). In 1996, Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), visited Norway for two days. . . .

With the announcement of the new government, Jagland chose not to renew the term of Martin Kolberg as state secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister. Kolberg, a childhood friend of Jagland, reacted with anger and frustration, and the media portrayed the matter as Jagland firing his best friend. Jagland said, “Martin had wanted to work for Gro [Harlem Brundtland]” … I really wanted him to work as party secretary”. Regarding Kolberg’s reaction, Jagland said, “I followed an agreement between us, and I though he did not want the job. I am very surprised by his reaction”. . . . Five days later, Kolberg was appointed state secretary in the Ministry of Defence. . . .

[. . .]

In 1998, Jagland was confronted with another incident, after placing his hands on Synnøve Svabø’s breasts on national television. Svabø was at that time talk show host for Weekend Globoid. Two years later, she was prosecuted for adultery against Jagland by the Labour-politician Gaute Hareide from Ulsteinvik. Svabø replied to here prosecution “Am I accused for the Jagland-grip? I had considered an accusation, but not three years afterwards. And not against me … I was innocent”. The police dropped the case shortly afterwards. It was seen by many at that time that Svabø “lured” Jagland.

(Footnotes and hyperlinks omitted.) I guess I am beginning to understand what led to this award.

6. I guess we can predict who will win the Economics Prize on Monday.

7. An undeserving Nobel Peace Prize winner blew off meeting with an entirely deserving Nobel Peace Prize winner today. And for what? More here, and here, in the event that you missed it.

8. But of course:

(Via Veronique de Rugy.)

  • interesting2465

    Obama like the Jonas Brothers? In my vernacular that means overexposed, but underrated, with potential to achieve great things when the ignorant and misled find a hobby other than bashing them…

    In other words, I totally agree.

  • interesting2465

    Obama like the Jonas Brothers? In my vernacular that means overexposed, but underrated, with potential to achieve great things when the ignorant and misled find a hobby other than bashing them…

    In other words, I totally agree.

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