Friday’s announcement that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize seemed to take everyone by surprise. Cynics scolded the Nobel Committee, claiming the freshman President has not done enough to earn the prize. Numerous Obama supporters even found themselves a bit perplexed as to how the President managed to sweep the ballots. Some suggest there were no strong candidates this year. Others propose that Oslo was jealous that Copenhagen, Denmark, scored a visit from President Obama, and giving him a Nobel was the only way to get him to Norway. I don’t subscribe to any of these theories.
I believe the Nobel Committee used the prize to send the United States a message. Simply put, the world was sick of America’s “we know what’s best for you and we’ll ram it down your throat” attitude. We have come across for far too long as a war-mongering, ethnocentric nation that uses military might as a diplomacy tool. What Obama represents is a wave of change in our relations with the rest of the world. The Nobel Committee may have awarded Obama the Peace Prize but it was the American citizens, by virtue of their support of the change of direction offered by Obama, who earned it.
A President for ALL the people
The Norwegians are sending a clear message to America. Too often, our government fails to recognize that its publics go beyond our nation’s borders. We flaunt our title as “a preeminent world power,” yet fail to act in a way that appeases our international audience. In PR, every key public deserves consideration—a lesson the Bush Administration could have better remembered.
In his short tenure, Obama has already shown that he is capable of working for the best interest of humanity. “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” said the Norwegian committee. Obama realizes that our international reputation has been hurting, and with so much of our current policy focused around international relations, it would be difficult to get anything done without changing our tone.
War is never popular.
It is even less popular when you don’t have a good reason for waging it. Iraq was clearly mishandled. We went in claiming Saddam Hussein violated U.N. sanctions by possessing weapons of mass destruction and that these weapons directly jeopardized the safety of the international community. This explanation would have worked fine…had it been true. Every organization needs to value honesty and transparency above all else in its public relations.
“His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population,” said the committee.
When you lie, your credibility is shot, and so is your reputation. For Bush, there was no recovering. After it was discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, the international community became distrustful of the United States. Our leader didn’t ascribe to the “basic values and attitudes” shared by most of the world’s population, so the assumption was that we didn’t, either. Obama values honesty and transparency, and the worldwide community has clearly shown that it appreciates his candor.
A new style of leadership: We’re all in this together.
Ignore the fact that Obama was nominated for the award just eleven days after the election. Rather, be proud that the world considers our most prominent person a missionary for peace. As the old adage goes, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Obama has incorporated this philosophy into his international public relations strategy. I think his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize indicates that it’s working.