The Nobel Committee stunned a lot of people earlier today by giving its annual peace prize to Barack Obama “‘for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’ less than nine months after he took office.” In short, for being a symbol of profound change, for giving people a generalized sense of hope and for reaching out to Muslims with his Cairo speech. But what is so peaceful and noble about digging America into the swamp of Afghanistan just as surely as Lyndon Johnson goaded this country into Vietnam in the mid ’60s?
Walter Gibbs and Alan Cowell‘s 10.9 N.Y. Times story says that “with American forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the winner until minutes before the prize was announced here.
“Reporters at a news conference to announce the prize pressed the committee’s chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, to explain the reasons Mr. Obama had prevailed over other candidates who included human rights activists in China and Afghanistan and political figures in Africa.
“Specifically, reporters asked whether Mr. Obama might not become mired in a war in Afghanistan as Lyndon B. Johnson was in Vietnam.
“But the committee said it wanted to enhance Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts so far rather than anticipate events in the future. Mr. Jagland, a former prime minister of Norway, said that Mr. Obama had already contributed enough to world diplomacy and understanding to deserve the prize.
“As to whether the prize was given too early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, he said: ‘We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.'”