While the Obama row over the Nobel Prize was not surprising given the state of screeching panic that FOX News is in these days, what was a bit strange was the flack from the left. Noami Klein appeared on Democracy NOW! several days ago to add her voice to those criticizing the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. While my first impression was that Obama received the prize for simply not being Bush as a kind of European joke on the American right, listening to all of the criticism has led me to weigh in on the issue with several points.
The first is that the Nobel Prize Committee is simply executing the will of a deceased arms merchant who set the trust up as a way to spin his legacy clean. The committee is under the direct influence of the Norwegian parliament and as such, not only do Americans have no say in the matter, but neither does the rest of the world.
The second is that the committee has clearly been prone to this sort of hopeful enthusiasm before, such as with the Arafat, Perez and Rabin award. Their selections have missed out on individuals commonly accepted as giants in this area like Ghandi and honored outright war criminals like Kissinger. Klein’s point that Obama’s award cheapens the Nobel Peace Prize is confusing in light of this history because I expect Ms. Klein is aware of it.