Is The Nobel Peace Prize 'Aspirational'?

Jason Zengerle wonders if rewarding promise over accomplishment is the whole point

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Conventional wisdom on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama is, increasingly, that it was premature, with some insisting Obama's best option is to refuse it. After all, at nine months into his term, Obama has promised much but accomplished little. Hoever, Jason Zengerle at The New Republic wonders, is the whole point of the award is to promote aspirations for peace rather than to recognize past achievements? Zengerle writes:

And, I have to confess, my initial reaction was the same as theirs, and pretty much everyone's outside the White House: What has Obama done to deserve this? But if you think about it for a second, desert is almost irrelevant here. Unlike the Nobel prizes for medicine or physics or literature, the Nobel peace prize is often awarded for potential rather than past achievement; it's like the NBA draft of the Nobels.

Crowley cites a Foreign Affairs article by Ronald Krebs calling the Nobel Peace Prize "expressly political," adding that "The Nobel committee seeks to change the world through the prize's very conferral, and, unlike its fellow prizes, the peace prize goes well beyond recognizing past accomplishments." Zengerle writes, "Indeed, since 1971, according to Krebs's criteria, the Nobel committee has awarded 27 aspirational prizes."

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