David R. Henderson  

Not From The Onion

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Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

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COMMENTS (25 to date)
Blackadder writes:

Can an economics Nobel be far behind?

JPIrving writes:

Haven't had a more absurd winner since Kissinger. I need a whiskey.

guthrie writes:

Which war has he stopped?

guthrie writes:

I dunno JP... Yassar Arafat won by shaking hands with Israeli Prime Ministers in public while preaching 'death to Israel' to Palestinians...

wintercow20 writes:

If the Peace prize had anything to do with doing work to promote fraternity between nations, and the abolition or reduction of standing armies, then my colleage Walter Oi is far more qualified, and another former Rochester professor and author of this post, David Henderson, should have been considered (see his contributions to AntiWar.com). Even Bono has done far more to promote world peace. But we have long since moved past recognizing meritorious achievement for such a prize.

On the upside, look at the group of people that the President shares the company of now ... Yassir Arafat?

Matt C writes:

Obviously it doesn't make sense based on Obama's current accomplishments.

Could this be an attempt by the prize committee to pre-emptively shame Obama into making more peaceful choices in the future?

It will be more embarrassing for Obama to drum up a war with Iran now that he is holder of the Peace Prize, for example.

kingstu writes:

When I was a youth I farted on my sister. I later apologized and promised I would never do it again (a promise I proudly kept). Do I deserve the Nobel Peace Prize too?

Francis writes:

Here is a good paper on how to win a Nobel Peace prize:


And the paper reminds you by the same occasion of the fantastically peace-loving attitude of some of the laureates.

Yancey Ward writes:

Matt C has correctly identified the motivation for this award. On its face, this award is a colossal joke, but the committee is attempting to steer the President's policies going forward on issues like Afghanistan, Iran, and global warming. This was the same reason Arafat was rewarded the prize- they were attempting to steer him into a grand agreement with the Israelis, but the plan just didn't work- Arafat couldn't give a rat's ass what the committee thought of him.

The problem with this prize is that it opens Obama to ridicule, and it clearly opens the prize itself to further ridicule. If I were in Obama's shoes, I would decline the prize graciously but firmly. They did him no favors.

Kenny Evitt writes:

Wikipedia nails it:

Unlike the scientific and literary Nobel Prizes, usually issued in retrospect, often two or three decades after the awarded achievement, the Peace Prize has been awarded for more recent or immediate achievements taking the form of summary judgment being issued in the same year as or the year immediately following the political act.

Didn't Obama 'do' a lot simply by being elected? I (personally) know several people that believe that. And if enough people believe that too, maybe it's true! The political placebo effect.

q writes:

the nobel award committee should have given the award to themselves for their long history of encouraging peace and leadership worldwide.

Randy writes:

I heard that on the radio this morning. This is a joke right? What would be hilarious is if he decides to send more troops to Afghanistan tomorrow.

Willem writes:

And how about that Quintus Pfuffnick!

agnostic writes:

"Could this be an attempt by the prize committee to pre-emptively shame Obama into making more peaceful choices in the future?"

You're giving them too much credit. They're just plain stupid.

Troy Camplin writes:

And I thought Al Gore's award was an embarrassment -- I mean, a Nobel Prize for a power point presentation? But at least he did a power point presentation! Obama hasn't done that much.

This is literally the first Nobel Prize for Rhetoric.

ieremius writes:

...and the Nobel Prize for Peace achieves the same relevance to me as the Oscar for Best Picture. People like Sam Walton deserve this award, not US Presidents.

The Cupboard Is Bare writes:

As far as I'm concerned, Obama has yet to do anything to further the cause of peace.

It has been suggested that the award may have been given as an "incentive" to those who will vote on upcoming National Healthcare legislation. I'm assuming the logic is to guilt people into pleasing their Nobel Prize winning President. I think it's gross manipulation.

bob writes:

Someone please abolish the Nobel already.

mark writes:

This just in from New York:

Wall Street firms announced today that, in honor of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, they were changing their bonus practices. No longer will annual bonuses be based on income generated during a twelve month period. Instead, annual bonuses will be awarded every 8-1/2 months. Further, instead of being based on actual results, bonuses up to three times actual salary will be eaerned if the employee has demonstrated the prospect of bringing in future income. "This is change we can believe in", the banks' employees said. "If it's good enough for the Nobel Committee, it's good enough for us".

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) who introduced The Cap Executive Officer Pay Act of 2009 (S.360), which would limit the annual compensation for executives at companies receiving TARP funding to the salary received by the President of the United States, currently $400,000 per year, said she planned to withdraw her bill and reintroduce it at some time in the future when the Nobel Committee stops giving President Obama awards. She could not predict when that would be, noting that, unlike the Constitution, there is no limit on the number of times the Nobel Committee could vote for President Obama.

Gavin Andresen writes:

From the nobel prize site: "As described in Nobel's will, [the peace prize] was dedicated 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.' "

I think Obama DID do the best work for fraternity between nations; rhetoric matters in international diplomacy.

I don't think he's done anything to abolish or reduce standing armies.

And I have no idea if he's done anything to hold or promote peace congresses.

Bottom line for me: the prize committee screwed up giving Gore the peace prize a few years ago, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this year.

The Cupboard Is Bare writes:

Are candidates notified in advance that they are being considered for the award? If that is the case, then that might be the reason for his indecision regarding Afganistan.

James B writes:

Well, we know he hasn't actually done much as yet to advance world peace as President, and he didn't exactly do a lot during his brief stint as a U.S. Senator - so, I can only imagine that the Nobel folks know something we don't about his work in the Illinois State Senate...or maybe as a 'community activist' or perhaps at the law review... or in grade school maybe? It's just puzzling that they haven't yet released this info for the rest of us.

z writes:

From the NYTimes:

Mr. Axelrod’s recounting of the president’s first reaction to news early Friday morning that he’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. “What are you talking about?” Mr. Obama said, according to Mr. Axelrod. “Is this a joke?”

Guess that pretty much sums things up.

Troy Camplin writes:

Even Obama thinks a Peace Prize for Rhetoric is a joke. ANd he would be right.

Lauren writes:

A remark about the incentives behind the Nobel Prize awards:

According to Alfred Nobel's will, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded not by an academic subcommittee selected by established university-oriented academies in Sweden, but by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament.

That's not a typo. The Norwegian Parliament, not the Swedish Parliament, is the originator of the Nobel Peace Prize. All other Nobel Prizes are awarded through Sweden, and specifically are directed to avail themselves of established academic routes rather than political routes.

Setting nationality aside, the different incentives created by how different awarding committees are appointed lead to different results. That parliamentary appointments ultimately lead to political awards should not surprise us.

Learning that the Nobel award committees were so divergently based by both credentials and nationality has given me some new insights into how these prizes have evolved. I finally put it together today that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament--and is not in any way associated with any university-oriented subcommittees appointed through some arcane but nevertheless intellectually achievement-oriented process, as I had vaguely assumed.

That I only just learned this is surely my own naivete. But I don't think I"m alone in not having realized this. I suppose what surprised me most was learning that the committee for that particular Nobel Peace Prize award is by parliamentary appointment rather than by some academically-based subcommittee or votes of some other academic appointments--and by Norway's Parliament, not even Sweden's, so that the Norwegian Peace Prize committee appointees might not even interact easily in today's world with their contemporaneous Swedish Nobel committee appointees as peers to consider and share meta-questions such as how politics versus achievement might have been handled in the past--at that.

The Nobel award in economics also has a different history that affects who is appointed to the committee awarding it.

I almost never link to or quote from Wikipedia, but in this case, I am grateful to Wikipedia for actually quoting from Alfred Nobel's will. It is greatly explanatory.

I have no one to blame but myself for my having trusted the brand-name of Nobel Prize for most of my life. The brand name has been tarnished; and it's up to us as consumers to decide which of its remaining products will still be worth our bothering with.

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