Given those parameters, the paradox of who has been chosen has been too much to handle at times. Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, Austen Chamberlain, the European Union, Al Gore, the Dalai Lama, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Theodore Roosevelt and Liu Xiaobo have all raised hackles with their awards.
“I’ve said that political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize,” musical comedian Tom Lehrer told The A.V. Club on May 24, 2000. Kissinger was jointly awarded the award in 1973 along with North Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho for the (routinely violated) Paris Peace Accords.
“Le Duc Tho has rejected the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him jointly with Secretary of State Kissinger for the Vietnam agreement they negotiated,” reported Flora Lewis for the New York Times on Oct. 23, 1973. “He said that ‘peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. … In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept’ the prize. ... Two members of the [Norwegian Parliament’s Nobel Prize Committee] have resigned in protest against the award.”
But maybe with Obama we should have seen this coming. In his 2009 Nobel speech, he left himself plenty of outs. “To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” he said.
Obama is far from the first questionable decision the Nobel committee has made. Though, in this case especially, they should have never offered the award without the recipient producing results first. But at this point, I’d rather see our president live up to the award than return it.
Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.