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The World's Newest Peace Symbol

Oct 14, 2009, 7:33 AM

Barack Obama, the US president, is the surprise winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Ordinarily, the Nobel Prize in any category (literature, chemistry, physics, economics, medicine and peace) is a recognition and celebration of solid personal accomplishment.

That is why the world including Mr Obama himself was stunned by the choice of the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate. Former Polish president Lech Walesa, who won the Peace Prize in 1983, sums up the universal incredulity that greeted the choice of Obama for the coveted Prize. He said:  "So soon? Too early; he has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act."

But that is beside the point. In singling out Obama for the greatest honour in the world, the Norwegian Peace Committee laid emphasis more on potential than achievement. It is the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous world inherent in Obama's message of hope that tilted the balance in his favour. "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," says

Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Peace Committee.

Obama's call for peace and cooperation, reduction in world stock of nuclear arms, lessening American conflicts with Muslim nations and consolidating America's role in combating climate change are some of the factors that the Nobel Committee has recognized as the driving force behind Obama's quest to make the world a much better place for everyone. Seen in this light, the Nobel Prize is a shot in the arm for Obama to act without fail for a better world.  It is also an endorsement that the world is behind him in his crusade. It therefore demands that Obama stay the course. It is unlikely he will deviate from the path he has chosen.

It can be inferred from the Obama choice as Nobel Peace laureate that the world abhors warmongering, warmongers, bigotry, sectarianism and unilateralism - that have poisoned the world in the recent past and made it less safe to live in by fomenting mutual distrust. And it indicates that humanity is on the move towards peace, tolerance and reconciliation among the vastly diverse people of the world. Because of America's immense influence in the world, the actions and/or inactions of its president shape world politics in an incredible way.

As we have already seen, an American president who is a hawk drives the world towards the edge of a precipice. By contrast, a dovish American leader brings hope and relief to the mass of humanity. So Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for laying the groundwork for harmony, concord and communion in the world. He is the newest symbol of peace in the world, joining the pre-eminent league of Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson.