Friday, October 9, 2009


I'm not particularly critical of the first eight months and 19 days of President Obama's foreign policy. His domestic policies are another matter.

To paraphrase what I wrote here when I declared my intention to vote for Obama, I hoped that he would change the tone of American foreign policy, while continuing to defend our vital interests. The jury is still out, but, to some extent, he seems to be doing just that.

Obama has got off to a reasonably good start on some foreign policy issues. But that's all it is: a start. Is that the basis for a Nobel Peace Prize?

I agree with Greg Mankiw's analogy to awarding the economics Nobel to a first-year graduate student.

But I, being I, naturally think in terms of sports analogies. Herb Score won the American League Rookie of the Year award as a pitcher for the 1955 Cleveland Indians. During 1955 and 1956, he won 36 games while losing only 19, and led the league in strikeouts. There would have been more justification for electing Score to the Hall of Fame after his first two seasons, than for giving Obama the Peace Prize this year.

But, after sustaining a severe injury during the 1957 season, Score never recovered his rookie form, and faded into retirement at the age of 28, in 1962.

Now, I sincerely hope that Obama succeeds in the long run. But giving him this award based solely on his high hopes on entering office, seems premature, setting both Obama and the Nobel committee up for potential embarrassment.

If, as some reports indicate, the prize is largely based on Obama's ambitious goals for nuclear disarmament, the committee should perhaps have considered the even-more-ambitious goals of one of Obama's predecessors. Ronald Reagan was more committed to total nuclear disarmament than any president during the nuclear age. He unsuccessfully tried to bargain away almost all of the American nuclear arsenal during a 1986 summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev. But the Norwegians seemed not to take any notice of that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Reagan snub is an obvious case where who you are matters more than what you do.

From what I have heard from friends, the President is also being considered for the National League Cy Young award for his efforts in throwing out ceremonial first pitches this season.