It is spelled out quite clearly in the official announcement:
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.Keep in mind that what passes for News in the American Corporate Press is not necessarily the most important thing in the world. The press might give whole nuclear arms stuff one headline, then replace the headline about a kidnapping or puppies. Even in foreign affairs, let's look at our preoccupations:
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
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.
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."
- Afghanistan: important to the Afghans, to the Americans who suffer there, and as a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. To anyone else, not so much
- Iraq: like Afghanistan times three.
- The entire international order: relevant to the entire planet.
YES the award may seem odd to we Americans, accustomed to seeing the world as our appendage. Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo and the Patriot Act loom large in our minds, not to mention the more comical Teabaggers. But not that many people in the rest of the world really care, except for the recruiting offices of AQ/Taliban, the latter of which condemns the award right along with the RNC.
Obama of course is just one guy, full of errors and all too likely to make Afghanistan his Vietnam. It's entirely possible that AfghaNam will result in the election of Mitt Romney and the resumption of blow-M-up diplomacy.
But if Obama retired today, he'd have made one of the biggest positive changes ever ... it's just not the sort of bleeding firey explosion that sells ad space.
In my opinion. What's yours?
Some have questioned whether Obama deserved the prize, when so much work remains to be done. To this, there are several replies, all beginning with "Read The Award Announcement".
In addition, let us note that many Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded in media res. For ezample Aung San Suu Kyi still has not freed her Burma from its tyranny, yet no-one can possibly criticize the justice of that award and its usefulness in forwarding her work.
A year ago, Obama's critics complained his message of multilateral diplomacy was too popular; now they say it could not have been popular enough to justify his nomination. I wish they'd get their story straight!