I was shocked to hear that Obama won the Nobel Prize yesterday. My first reaction to the news was like many others, "What for?" From the sounds of it, such was Obama's reaction too.
WASHINGTON — China's dissidents are voicing unease about President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, saying that the award could have been effective in promoting human rights in their country....
Huang Ciping, an engineer turned activist who is executive director of Wei's Washington-based foundation, said that China "has come to such a turning point that the prize might have helped."
"The Nobel Peace Prize committee has the full right to decide to give coal to those who suffer and struggle or to present flowers to the powerful," she said.
But she said of the decision: "It is both a pity for the Chinese people and a danger to world peace."
Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of China's Uighur minority, congratulated Obama but called on him to use the added prestige to put pressure on "dictatorships like China."
"I am very happy that he got it. Now he has to do something with the award. It raises expectations on him to stand up for oppressed nations," she told AFP.
Domestically, Obama really doesn't need this right now. It gives his right-wing critics more ammunition for the idea that he is some kind of messiah-like figure (and this is a meme that American's have been pretty open to accepting). But unlike wing-nuts, I don't think Obama deserves any criticism here. It's not like he lobbied to win this thing. The award was given to him unprovoked and it's obvious that it caught Obama by surprise, just like it did everybody else.
I believe there is truth to what the people in the above article are saying. The opportunity cost of Obama winning is great. There are lots of people, especially within China, who are deserving of the award.
Hopefully, this award spurs Obama and America to improve itself. For better or worse, the US President is still the most important person on the planet. If the prize can kick-start a renewed spirit here, Obama could prove to be a great selection.