President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize dominated commentary last Friday. Most pundits were bewildered, reacting with anger or good cheer; some called for him to reject the award, others rejected that option, and several commented on the aspirational aspect of the prize. But now the emerging consensus is that Obama has to live up to his award. (This may be a quintessentially American and Protestant attitude, according to one French pundit translated by the Wire here.) So how can he "earn" it?
Luckily for the president, a number of commentators--including a star news anchor and a former presidential adviser--are offering advice. Here's what they think the president should do to live up to his award:
- Bring Peace to the Middle East Former Clinton adviser Joe Klein thinks "an opportunity for a grand gesture may be developing in the most unlikely of locales." He sees "some actual, tangible news" in the West Bank, and urges Obama in Time magazine to unveil a peace plan for Israel and Palestine involving 1967 borders and land swaps. The Boston Globe editorial board, writing this past Saturday, agrees: "If there is one peacemaking mission that much of the world wants Obama to pursue resolutely, it is to shepherd Israelis and Palestinians into negotiations that produce a resolution of their conflict based on two secure, independent states."
- Go to Copenhagen The Globe editors also suggest a move on climate change: "Instead of getting caught up in quarrels about whether the Peace Prize is justified," they argue, it's time "to endow the award with an after-the-fact justification. An immediate challenge that should be met in this spirit is the climate-change conference this December in Copenhagen." Ben Jervey at Good is of the same mind. Right now, he says, it's all too easy for international observers to argue that, as the U.S. "is the biggest obstacle to ... a global climate treaty, and climate change is ... the biggest threat to global peace ...the United States is the biggest threat to global peace ... Therefore, Obama doesn't deserve the prize." Copenhagen is a quick hop away from the Nobel awards ceremony on December 10, he adds.
- Make a Grand and Graceful Statement at Award Ceremony Television anchor Tom Brokaw took to the pages of the Washington Post Thursday to make his case for what Obama should do: share. Specifically, Brokaw wants Obama to "invite a high-profile and wide-ranging delegation of interests"-- including possibly Hillary Clinton, a variety of NGO representatives, and perhaps President Bush the Elder--"to accompany him" to the Nobel award ceremony. Since, writes Brokaw, "the Nobel Committee wanted to honor President Obama's determination to put a new face on America's efforts to shape a more peaceful world, what better way for him to respond than to share this distinguished prize with those who have been doing just that without sufficient recognition?"
- Get Out of Afghanistan "Perhaps the looking-glass world of the Nobel peace prize," writes Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, "could at last vindicate itself ... perhaps Obama will feel obliged and emboldened. Perhaps he will refuse to continue the slaughter in Afghanistan and accept that it is time to go home and earn his award." From across the pond, Town Hall columnist Allen Hunt concurs: "feel free," he tells the president, "to earn your Nobel Peace prize by removing our sons and daughters from a situation where they no longer belong. And use them instead to make a real and lasting difference"
- Promote Free Trade Reuters's James Pethokoukis offers another perspective: "the committee noted Obama’s multilateral approach on the issues of climate chance and nuclear disarmament. But where has the president been when it comes to using diplomacy and cooperation to promote global trade, which is essential to global peace and prosperity?" So, suggests Pethokoukis, "[i]nstead of increasing boosting aid to Pakistan, for instance, why not eliminate $360 million a year in tariffs on its exports?" Doing so would make Obama "not only ... worthy of the Peace Prize, but probably the Nobel Prize for Economics as well."