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I'll confess, when I heard the news this morning, my first thought was, "Why?" It's not that I don't think Obama can make lasting strides toward peace in the next few years, only that I think he's still getting his footing, and hasn't really had a chance to move us very far in that direction. So I found myself in the very unusual position of sharing an opinion with the Iranian Foreign Ministry, which termed the award to Obama as "hasty".

But then I realized I was looking at the situation from within the maelstrom of American politics, where everything Obama does is dissected and pored over on the 24 hour news channels, and it's difficult to see the entire forest for all of the trees. On the other hand, the Nobel committee had the luxury of taking a wider and longer view, and could see things that I initially did not.

I think French president Nicolas Sarkozy hit the nail squarely on the head when he said the prize went to Obama because "It recognizes...the return of America to the hearts of the peoples of the world," Or, as Mark Evanier put it, Obama got the Nobel for not being George W. Bush.

The world is looking at the U.S. once again as not only a friend and partner, but also as a leader, and it's in that light which Obama will have the best chance of bringing about something closer to real peace.

Jeff Mariotte

From an email exchange with a friend earlier today, here's my take.  I was also quite surprised and had some of the same thoughts--what's he done?  But in fact he's been working on nonproliferation issues for years, and sponsored, with Richard Lugar, important legislation in that area.  He followed that up (but too recently for the Nobel committee's consideration) by killing that semi Star Wars missile "defense" program in Eastern Europe.  
Here's me repeating myself now:
<<I think this is the key paragraph from the Nobel committee's release:
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."
So in a way it is a THANK GOD HE'S NOT BUSH award, but it's the way in which he's not Bush that matters.  Obama's election really was celebrated around the world, because his candidacy and his campaign represented a real shift away from a policy of bullying and whining to one of cooperation and diplomacy.  Then after his election he demonstrated how it works--remember his trip to Europe when he had to step in and broker between China and France, and then between two other countries, Turkey and somebody--it's in my comic, I just don't remember now... ? Anyway, he was showing on a micro scale what his foreign policy is on the macro--if there's a dispute, you put grownups in a room togethe

r and look for a way to resolve it.
It's unlikely that any newly elected head of state from another country would get the award, because they just wouldn't have the worldwide impact that a US head of state does.  And so many things about Obama, from his background to his skin color to his embrace of diplomacy, mean that people all over the world now look at the US as a friend and not a frighteningly powerful two-year-old who's apt to have a tantrum at any moment.>>
and also:
<<My best sense of the reasoning is that the committee likes what he promises and wants to encourage it.  Because he is the new kid on the international stage, they may be thinking that their approval lends him some credibility (and encourages others to fall in line with that thinking, because hey, even if your heart's not in it, that million bucks wouldn't hurt).
So it's meant to celebrate his potential and at the same time, to help him realize that potential.>>

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