How world views Obama Nobel Peace Prize
President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is praised in many countries as a reflection of a "new hope" in world politics, but others worry it came too soon. A global roundup of views.
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama only nine months into his term brought surprise and delight in many parts of the world – for those who see it as a broad marker of hope and future global harmony at a time when wars and rumors of wars are deeply troubling.Skip to next paragraph
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But the Norwegian Nobel committee announcement Friday brought ample doses of befuddlement and skepticism among officials used to years of hard work to end conflict. Absent a significant peace deal, they worry, awarding the prize to a new president is premature, or could backfire by creating unreasonable expectations of the White House.
The Nobel committee said the award was for Obama's efforts to bring "a new climate in international politics," for which the American leader is "the world's leading spokesman."
At this point, diplomats argue, how the White House wears the prize – in humility or in triumph – will bear greatly on whether politicians and media around the world will accept the choice of the US president, which they say is symbolic rather than substantive.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he was "deeply humbled" by the decision of the Nobel Committee. "I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize — men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace. But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build."
A changed world?
Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who won the award in 1994, captured the way the Obama presidency has changed global views of America in an effusive congratulatory letter.
"Very few leaders if at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope," Mr. Peres wrote."Under your leadership, peace became a real and original agenda. And from Jerusalem, I am sure all the bells of engagement and understanding will ring again."
Many average folks from across the globe said the award ratifies a weary hope for peace.
"It's OK," says Dieter Bosche, who heads a German agriculture feed company, sitting with four friends at lunch in Berlin. "It's good for the new politics Obama represents, and good for the direction of the US. We want this direction to continue."
In Mexico City, some residents responded similarly, even though Latin America had strong contenders for the award, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and Piedad Cordoba, an influential peacebroker in Colombia.
A group of messengers standing on a sidewalk praised the decision. "He is a man of peace, he deserves it," says Jose Domingo Patino.