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Come Saturday Morning: Credit Where It’s Due

FDL’s writers have been among the sharpest of the reality-based critics of the Obama administration, as posts like this one will show.  But, contrary to what’s been claimed, we’re not so steeped in reactive Obama hatred that we won’t give the man credit when it’s due.   Case in point:  His being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yes, he’s only been in office a little over eight months.   Yet he’s already made more progress with both Russia and Iran than George W. Bush and the neocon cabal made in eight years, which makes experts on the Middle East like Juan Cole quite happy:

President Obama is slowly putting Iran in a box. His cancellation of the useless and expensive so-called missile shield program in Eastern Europe, which had needlessly antagonized Russia, has been rewarded with greater Russian cooperativeness on Iran. The U.S. right wing accused Obama of a failure of nerve. But in fact his move was shrewd and gutsy, since he predisposed Russia to increased cooperation with the U.S. in regard to Iran’s nuclear research program. Obama’s full-court press for a United Nations Security Council resolution on nuclear disarmament also pulled the rug out from under Iran’s previous grandstanding tactics, whereby it accused the U.S. and its allies of only wanting nuclear dominance, not the abolition of nukes.

Cole goes on to note that President Obama chaired the U.N. Security Council at the summit level on Thursday, and pushed through an important resolution on nuclear disarmament. The video of the event is at the top of this post.

Now the people who really are steeped in reactive Obama hatred, left and right, are howling over this. The right wing is just plain howling, whereas the biggest beef from the left has more substance to it: Namely, that it seems presumptous to give Obama that prize when we haven’t totally left Iraq yet and we’re not yet close to pulling out of Afghanistan — though the fact that the Obama people are taking seriously a recent olive branch of sorts from the Taliban is a good sign.  But longtime FDL commenter Sara points out that the Nobel committee frequently awards the Peace Prize as a means to encourage future good behavior, as well as to acknowledge current good deeds.  She also suggests we do the following:

If folk here want to learn about the Nobel Peace Prize, I would suggest that you google Irwin Abrams, and select the first google selection.

Done and done:

Irwin Abrams is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Antioch University. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Nobel Peace Prize and the history of the international peace movement. He appears frequently on radio and television, including CNN, National Public Radio, BBC, and the CBC, and is often cited in the international press. His books include The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates: An Illustrated Biographical History, 1901-2001, the authorized edition of the Nobel Peace Lectures, 1971-2001, and Words of Peace. Born in 1914, he was educated at Stanford University and received his Ph.D from Harvard University. For a full bio, click here or follow the links below

As Sara (who had Abrams as a professor in college) notes:

Professor Abrams (Retired Antioch College Emeritus History Professor) has written several books, and a number of essays as well as edited collections of Nobel Lectures — and they are maintained at his sites on line. Irwin Abrams was part of the party representing the American Friends Service Committee, which along with the British Friends won the Nobel Award in 1947 for their work in postwar Europe, and since that time he has been involved with the Nobel Committee. The Nobel Committee has always looked toward former awardees for nominations and assistance with documenting the accomplishments of nominees, and I would not be all that surprised if Dr. Abrams was not involved in collecting documentation for the Barack Obama award. He was deeply involved in the Jimmy Carter nomination, and in fact has edited a collection of essays with Carter about the award and the Laureates. I believe he was also involved with the Gore nomination.

So this isn’t just a slap at the old Bush administration, as has been surmised, but both a reward for things started and done and encouragement towards future progress.  As Beliefnet’s Paul Raushenbush says:

The question that immediately must be asked is: How has the President “strengthened international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”?  The answer is exactly what hawkish conservatives deride him for – his speeches.  The committee especially cited the approach he has had to nuclear weapons as evidenced in the speech in Prague; and his willingness to directly engage the Muslim world in his brilliant speech in CairoAnyone who domestically dismisses these efforts will have to explain why America has risen in the past ten  months to be the most admired nation in the world after having fallen during President Bush’s terms.

And that is that.

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