MENA: Where is Obama's Peace?

He's done it again and this time he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, much to everyone's surprise – including his own. US President Barack Obama's prize has sparked a serious debate in the Middle East and here's a round up of some of the reactions.

Mo-ha-med, who describes himself as a “perpetual expat” at The Traveller Within sees the award as a publicity stunt:

I'm ashamed for the Nobel Peace prize committee.

The small, 5-member committee of Norwegians has been obsessed with publicity, and since few around the world know of the leading figures in the medical or economic realms, and few care about breakthroughs in physics and chemistry – the Peace prize is where they can make headlines.

As for Obama's peace efforts, the blogger, who is currently in Egypt, writes:

Obama's record in “world peace” is not shallow – it's abysmal.

Guantanamo is not closed. Iraq is still a mess. More troops are being sent to Afghanistan, not less. US soldiers involved in torture are not being tried.
And don't get me started on his ridiculous, ridiculous attempt at half-a**edly addressing the Middle East quagmire, which ended in the Israelis absolutely riding his a**.

On Twitter, gr33ndata [ar], from Egypt, writes:


Has the Nobel Peace Prize been created to be awarded to those who greet people the most and bid them goodbye and things like this ..

And Amr Ezzat adds:


Obama deserves the Nobel Prize in the art of diplomacy and for his collection of speeches and statements to the Press.

From Morocco, blogger Eatbees describes the situation as Obama's Paradox, and argues:

Barack Obama is a man of peace—according to the Nobel Prize committee, the preeminent man of peace of our time—yet he sits astride an army that is waging two simultaneous wars; a network of client states, foreign military bases and secret prisons; a spy agency that consorts with gangsters and terrorists; and so on. The logic of his position requires him, first of all, to defend the interests of the American empire (as defined by whom? the voters? Congress? his military chiefs? a cabal of bankers and industrialists?) and only then, as a purely secondary matter, to pursue the humanistic goal of peace.

So we have the paradox of a man of peace who sends robot planes into the mountains of Pakistan to bomb civilians, who shakes hands with extremists like Netanyahu and puppets like Abbas while avoiding true democrats like Zelaya of Honduras; but we are so entranced by what he could be and might do, that we give him the Nobel Prize after nine months of being there. Now I’m an admirer of this paradoxical man myself, but are we really so starved for humanistic leadership in the world that we are ready to reward intentions as if they were accomplished facts?

In Israel, Yael admits feeling sorry for Obama, saying:

[i]t does make you feel embarrassed for the honoree. This has put Obama, through no fault of his own, in a terribly embarrassing position.

Yesterday, one of the most-searched phrases in google was “Obama Nobel Prize is this a joke?” and today if you put the keywords Obama and Nobel in, one of the top search suggestions includes “for what.”

Her reasons why the prize isn't doing Obama any favours include:

First, people tend to feel a bit of resentment toward someone who gets something they haven’t earned, right? […] Second, this is totally setting Obama up for criticism in the future: not only if he doesn’t live up to–earn– the award (and perceptions of what is required to earn that reward is a pretty tall order), but anytime he does anything that could potentially be seen, even by small groups of opponents, as running counter to what a “peace prize winner” should be doing, we’ll be seeing sarcastic reflections on “Mr. Nobel Winner” and that is certainly bound to seep into the public consciousness over time.

She concludes her post writing:

It is really like the Nobel committee has set him up for failure, ridicule, and pity. They did him no favour at all.


  • Obama is the new symbol of hope to Peace in the world. His being the POTUS is worth the NPP in itself. A nation known for racist world views elects an educated worthy minority to its highest leadership post. This is the catalyst for all other nations to have hope that this can happen in their countries as well. Yes, Obama deserves the award. You all want an Obama in your country to win don’t you? You want change right? Change is Hope. Hope brings peace. Obama =peace.

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    I’ll say the same thing I said on Amr blog, which is this: I understand that as a world leader you will receive the blunt end of the critical stick. And I understand that as a new, young, and black president, O’bama will receive a lot of criticism for his actions or lack thereof. What we must remember is that O’bama didn’t start the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. He was placed into a presidency that was fraught with conflict and termoil; situations that are not easy to escape. As an outsider, I cannot begin to understand the suffering and death that the Iraqi and Afghani people have faced. The travisties and atrocities of the “war against terrorism” has caused hundreds of thousands of unnessicary deaths on both sides, and it was all because of George Bush’s ignorant and one-sided views of the world and how he believed the world should function. I neither agreed with nor condoned Bush’s actions in this respect.We must remember that the Nobel Peace Prize is not only about action, it’s also about promoting the idea of peace. Critics speak of O’bama’s young age, inexperience, and lack of action as reason’s for his undeserved awarding. However, none realize that Martin Luther King recieved the award in 1964 at the age of 35 for promoting an IDEA of peace between the races in particular, and all people in general. And to O’bama’s defense, little can be done, in terms of peace, in 10 days, let alone 9 months. People seldom realize that doors were opened for peacful discussions when O’bama took office, a task that was lacking in the Bush administration. And further, none was as surprised as O’bama himself.
    “To be honest, 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… But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.”
    According to Alfred Nobel’s will, the award is to 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.” Our armies have reduced in Iraq and our doors are now open to peace. The process to peace is a long and arduous road but it is my hope, and Nobel’s hope, that O’bama will bring it to fruition.

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