Global Opinion on Obama's Nobel Prize

Reactions from French, German, Chinese, and Spanish publications on the president's award

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President Obama's shocker Nobel Peace Prize has been explained by both the prize committee and commentators as a sign of his international popularity. (The Wire has also covered first reactions, top five considerations, quirky responses, and the ramifications for America.) The committee cited Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Some dubbed the prize a retroactive knock against Bush, and a sign that international affection for the internationally-minded president has not slipped since the Chicago Olympics debacle.

So what's being said overseas? Here's a survey of reactions drawn from French, German, Spanish, and Chinese publications:

  • An Insult to the Protestant Work Ethic, Le Monde blogger Corine Lesnes has an interesting sociological take on the "quasi-general" American reaction of "He has to go win it now." While world reaction is favorable, Lesnes writes, "in a country where Protestant values demand that one work for success, such a reward seems a bit premature."
  • 'A Risk that Must Be Saluted' Fabrice Rousselot, writing in the French publication LibĂ©ration, doesn't deny Obama's troubles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel-Palestine, but writes that we must commend the "Oslo sages" for "betting on Obama's vision." Rousselot, like many American journalists, acknowledges the prize's downside for the president: "a president-Nobel laureate doesn't really have the right to failure."
  • An Anti-Bush Prize and a Sign of Hope "The prize is a bet on a promise and an unknown future," writes German newspaper Die Zeit's Martin Klingst. It is nothing less than a sign that "the world, with [Obama], hopes for a more peaceful, more just, cleaner, cooperative and nuclear-free world." And yes, he says, it is also an "anti-Bush prize." But he sees that differently than do American conservatives: "It is a reminder, after years of devatatation, not to waste this chance. Not only a reminder to Barack Obama, but to the entire world."
  • Buys Obama Time To Accomplish Something "Over two years after Barack Obama entered the world stage as the hopebearer of the Democratic party, the public still perceives him as more Messiah than doer," writes the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung's Barbara Vorsamer. "The day will come when it will no longer suffice to be a brand and to have an aura." But, she argues, this Nobel peace prize has pushed that day back a bit.
  • A Bribe to Stop Wars? In a satirical cartoon by Wang Qi Feng on, a grenade-carrying, gun-toting Obama is presented his peace prize by a Nobel Committee member who says, "Mr. Obama, in giving you this prize, we hope for you to change your current image thoroughly."
  • Unjustly Rewarding an Aggressive Nation Perez Esquival, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for defending human rights against Argentina's dictatorship, expressed astonishment that the Nobel Committee would honor the "president of the world's most aggressive nation that imposes itself on other nations with wars and conflicts." Esquival says he hopes that the prize will spur Obama into quickly resolving the conflicts in which the U.S. is involved and their attached human rights violations, but will watch with a skeptical eye for any progress. "[Obama] rose to the head of the [U.S.] government, but not [U.S.] power. It's evident that other sectors control power in the U.S."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.