Friday, October 09, 2009
Just when Obama was wondering whether the immense charm and aura that had hallmarked his successful campaign to the pinnacle of World power( or in less propogandist terms, the seat of US Presidency) was on the wane...comes the little fillip from Norway.... The awards - the coveted Nobel - that the World believes is an impartial and independent recognition of individual contribution to ensuring World Peace comes knocking on the White House... But pray why? Is it because Obama, fresh from the snubbing from the International Olympic Committee despite his overeager and personal endorsement of Chicago in the race for the 2016 Olympics ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/03/sports/03olympics.html) found few takers, needed a moral boost to continue US' crusade against the 'powers of evil' threatening the World?? Or did the historic step taken by the Americans last year in putting a Black American at the helm of affairs of the nation overawe the jury so much that Obama's just over a 100 day government's 'call for peace' itself was seen as an 'extraordinary effort to enhance international relations' by a US President.. The Nobel jury's Thjorbjorn Jagland's press conference after the announcement sounded too hollow... (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8298690.stm) the quizzing journalists questions were taken with a sense of diffidence...the answer to how he scored over the others, considered front runners till the nth moment rather dissatisfactory.. What else was so evident on Barack Obama's resume that the adjudicating pundits of the Nobel committee chose him to have contributed more to world peace than Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai, whose dogged stand against their long standing President Robert Mugabe, saw him change..in a manner of speaking, the destiny of what was considered Mugabe's private fiefdom...Like the first runner up at a beauty contest Tsvangirai later called Obama a 'deserving candidate' but said he had no idea about the yardsticks used to measure individual contribution.. In fact, these days, I live in a sort of global village myself...I have three housemates- one is from Zimbabwe, another from Angola, the third from the United States. All have a personal interest in the award going to Obama. Both my roommates from Africa were initially overjoyed, for they felt it was a grand 'international gesture' - a symbolism of racial equality. For those brief moments of euphoria, we kept aside other Black winners - Nelson Mandela, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu who perhaps made the world proud when they won the Nobel for their efforts to steer South Africa out of apartheid... When the argument turned logical, in an effort to collate Obama's diplomatic victories, there were few that readily came to mind...And soon the justification was he's hardly been a year in the hot seat, leading to a thumping resolution passed in our kitchen that the award was undeserving.. The Obama administration has been putting a brave face before its people, but the number of policies introduced that have backfired seem quantitatively larger than his grandiose 'unify the world lectures' like the one delivered in Cairo (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/) the proverbial reaching out to the Islamic world with an invocation of the influences left on him through his childhood... The Americans disillusionment with Obama's ' We Can' strategy is getting palpable by the day (http://news.economist.com/cgi-bin1/DM/y/eB1Cd0aRBx30Mo0F7R20EY) And an award like the Nobel Prize might help ward off the spotlight for a brief while from these uncomfortable truths... But the question is as the head of the most powerful nation in the world, is the expectation from his internationally so little that a resolution passed to seek nuclear non-proliferation and a call to the world for peace effort enough to laud him? Or is it also the fact that as the successor of widely unpopular George W Bush, any efforts to undo the damage he wrought in his 8 years in the White House automatically qualify him as the harbinger of peace? Perhaps one of the journalist who was at the Nobel Press Conference hit the nail on the head when he put a direct question to the Jury head..whether it was the Nobel committee's efforts at 'direct intervention into US politics'.. a vote of encouragement for an embattled President who seems at a crossroads whether to play a global leader with a vision for the world or an expert troubleshooter for a country that despite its reputation, is floundering to keep its position on its high perch..