Beacon News: Obama’s Nobel Prize shows ‘the American dream’

By Tyann Mullen
Contributing Writer

President Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Oct. 9.

Obama received the award for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the committee announced.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the prize every year to an individual from an international pool of nominees. The nominations had to be validated by Feb. 1, only 12 days after Obama was sworn into office.

“We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people,” Obama said when he accepted the award, adding he didn’t feel he deserved to be in the company of the “transformative” figures who have won the prize in years past.

Obama’s win within a limited amount of time in office has caused controversy among Americans.

Many citizens against Obama’s recent achievement believe he did not earn the award. Several news pundits have compared the awarding of this prize to Obama to a doctor receiving the award for a cure for cancer he has not yet achieved.

“I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

Although Obama has just begun to resolve issues throughout our country, it is the hope he brings to the international community that influenced the decision of the committee.

“They are sending a message of approval by this award,” said Dr. John Calhoun, professor of political science at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

The global interest sparked by Obama’s inauguration was the most the U.S. had seen in decades.

“There has not been energy like this in office in a while,” Calhoun said.

Obama continues to appeal to the world rather just to the United States.

Obama’s efforts of improving foreign affairs may have had the greatest influence on the Norwegian Nobel Committee when selecting him for the prize.

Another issue some are having with his awarding of the prize is his race. Obama is the first African-American to be elected into office. This has raised additional debates in the U.S.

“We began this thing with the American Dream, that any man can make it to the top,” said Calhoun.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 90 times since 1901.

In addition to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, some of the other 2009 American winners include: Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for physiology or medicine; Willard Boyle and George Smith for physics; Thomas Steitz for chemistry.; and Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson for economics.

For more on the 2009 Nobel Prize award winners, visit the Nobel Web site.

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