Matthew Diebel / USA Today – 2015-09-20 00:49:30
Former Nobel Chief:
Obama Peace Prize a Failure
Matthew Diebel / USA Today
(September 18, 2015) — Remember that Nobel Peace Prize that President Obama got in 2009? Well, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all, a former top Nobel official said.
In a just-released book, Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute for 25 years until stepping down last year, said the prize committee had expected the honor to deliver a boost to Obama, something he believes did not happen.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Lundestad, who sat in on the secretive committee’s meetings but did not have a vote, said the committee “thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect.”
“In hindsight, we could say that the argument of giving Obama a helping hand was only partially correct,” he wrote, according to VG, a Norwegian newspaper.
The award, made by the committee in response to Obama’s stated aim of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, came nine months after he took office.
“Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake,” Lundestad wrote in Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize. “In that sense the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for,” he said, noting that Obama himself rarely mentions the prize.
Lundestad also claims the White House even used back channels to find out if the award could accepted in absentia.
“His cabinet . . . asked whether anyone had previously refused to travel to Oslo to receive the prize,” Lundestad said. “In broad strokes, the answer was no. In the White House they quickly realized that they needed to travel to Oslo,” he added.
Meanwhile, when the institute announced the award, it was met with fierce criticism in the U.S., where many argued that Obama had not been president long enough to have an impact worthy of the Nobel.
Following several headlines that said Lundestad thought it was a “mistake” to have awarded the prize to Obama, he called a press conference on Thursday to deny that was what he had implied.
“Several of you have written that I believe the prize to Obama a mistake, but then you cannot have read the book,” Lundestad told reporters, according to VG. “It says nowhere that it was a mistake to give Obama the Peace Prize.”
“We plan to read the book first before making any comment,” said Annika Pontikis, spokeswoman for the Nobel Foundation, told Reuters.
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