PARIS – By awarding its Peace Prize for 2009 to Barack Obama, the Nobel Committee took a big risk. Even if Obama is obviously something of a pacifist, the president of the United States leads the world’s most powerful military, one that is still waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, on its face, the choice does not appear to be an obvious one.
Some observers around the world criticized the Nobel Committee for rewarding only lofty rhetoric by anointing Obama as this year’s peace laureate. I believe that this criticism is perverse and inappropriate – and thus dangerous. For it consists in condemning hope as nothing more than ephemeral words.