sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2009

Obama é Nobel da Paz (IV): o Presidente encara-o como uma «call to action»

Um artigo de Josh Gerstein e Jonathan Martin, no

«President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is quickly turning from a singular honor into a gold-medal headache, as even supporters call it premature and critics say it proves he’s a darling of the international elite.

Obama himself sought to put some distance between himself and the award, saying, “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but a recognition of the role of American leadership” in the world.

“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures” who won in the past, Obama said at the White House. “I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”

And seemingly mindful of the political risks involved, he seemed to go out of his way to puncture the solemnity of the moment, joking that it was also a good day because it’s his dog Bo’s birthday.

Ahead of Obama’s remarks, some Democrats argued that the Nobel Peace Prize validated Obama’s foreign policy, to the extent it’s been on display in the first nine months of his administration. But conservatives like Rush Limbaugh blasted the award as a not-so-subtle signal from the Nobel committee that they want America “neutered.”

“With this 'award' the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States," Limbaugh wrote to POLITICO.

For most winners, the Peace Prize is a recognition of a unique accomplishments for mankind. But for Obama the unexpected award could be more of a political albatross, especially at home.

At a time when Obama faces critical choices on Afghanistan, Guantanamo and other sensitive national security issues, the Nobel Committee’s action revives Republican arguments from last year’s presidential campaign that Obama is beholden to international elites looking for a dramatic break from the policies of President George W. Bush.

It could also remind many of one of Hillary Clinton’s primary critiques of Obama during last year’s presidential race: that he is praised more for his rhetoric than his actions, more for his global celebrity than any hard-and-fast accomplishments.

The official statement from the Nobel Committee praised Obama for his "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy" and saluted his announced goal of a nuclear-free world. However, the committee pointed to no concrete achievement of his fledgling presidency.

Even devoted supporters of Obama expressed amazement and a sentiment that the award was premature for a president who cannot yet point to any notable triumphs in the arena of foreign affairs — that the whole thing seemed a bit premature, like a fan letter from the European elite to the notion of Obama as a man of peace rather than a concrete recognition of anything in particular he’s achieved.

“At this point, Barack Obama is like the kid who gets a Porsche for his sixteenth birthday. It's wonderful but where can you go from there?” William Jelani Cobb, Professor of History, Spelman College, told POLITICO’s The Arena.

And it’s true, for all of Obama’s promises during the campaign, and speeches at the United Nations and elsewhere about the need for greater international cooperation, he has very little to show for it in real terms.

He hasn’t been able to enlist greater European help in Afghanistan. His efforts to broker Middle East peace have made only stinting progress. And even his own promise to close Guantanamo Bay in a year is almost certain to come up short.

He can point to some greater international cooperation in confronting Iran’s nuclear program, but the final results of that process are far off and unknown.

“I have no criticism of the president, and do think he’s had a good year in foreign policy, but I can’t for the life of me see how this helps him in a practical way on Afghanistan or any other issue. I think it would have helped a lot more if the committee had waited for at least one concrete accomplishment to go along with a better tone in American diplomacy,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy and national security analyst at the Brookings Institution.

Seemingly aware that the award could become a political albatross for Obama, White House officials moved quickly to put a respectful distance between the president and the laurel while taking care to show some respect for the internationally-renowned distinction.

“It’s nothing anyone expected. It’s certainly nothing the president sought,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said on MSNBC. “I think that he’s less interested in individual honors—and this certainly is one— than in advancing the causes that the were cited by the Nobel committee.”

But one senior Democrat said Republicans already were overplaying their hand, much as some did last week when they cheered Obama’s failure to land to the 2016 Olympics for Chicago despite a personal appeal in Copenhagen.

“On balance I suspect the White House staff would have been happy to have the prize go to someone else. But the right wing has already over played this by calling the awarding of the POTUS the Nobel peace prize an 'embarrassment,' ” said one senior Democrat. “Last week they rooted against Chicago, this week they're against peace. They look ridiculous."

While the award could boost Obama’s clout on the international stage, it will also add to already-outsized expectations many foreigners have for the new U.S. president to dramatically reshape America’s relationship with the world.

And it could create a situation where any but the most hawkish choices from Obama on those fronts and the Nobel award will dovetail neatly with the right’s contentions that the president has but assuaging world opinion ahead of a hard-headed assessment of America’s interests.

Cobb and other analysts said it could actually complicate Obama’s life going forward – as he faces critical decisions on Afghanistan and how to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“But to the extent that a Nobel Peace Prize can make your life more difficult this does. . . . Now he's a Nobel laureate. But coming as he weighs his options for Afghanistan this may be, or at least seem, like an attempt to influence policy? How does a Nobel Peace Prize winner order more troops into war?” Cobb said.

In some ways, the collective shock around Washington also seemed to reflect the political reality around Obama – that he has proven to be something of a political mortal, cutting deals and making hard compromises on foreign policy that seemed starkly at odds with the idealistic tone of his campaign. The Gitmo decision is a prime example - after campaigning for two years on closing Guantanamo Bay, Obama has been forced to confront the political reality of how difficult it will be.

Last week, his odds of winning stood at 18 to 1, according to British and Irish oddsmakers. Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia was listed at 5 to 1, Zimbabwean dissident Morgan Tsvangirai at 11 to 2, and former President Bill Clinton at 8 to 1.

Many TV reports on the award Friday morning were delivered with a smirk and an air of disbelief.

When the dust settles, the biggest loser could be the credibility of the Nobel Committee itself.

For the panel, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, the award was clearly driven as much by hostility towards President George W. Bush’s policies as by admiration for Obama.

The official citation credited Obama for creating “a new climate in international politics” and for pushing the U.S. into “a more constructive role” on issues such as global warming.

Adding to perceptions that the award was premature: Nobel nominations were due by February 1—just 12 days after Obama took office. It’s not clear who nominated Obama.

In 2002, when the Nobel Committee honored former President Jimmy Carter for his peacemaking efforts, the panel’s chairman said he hoped the award would serve as a “kick in the leg” to Bush for his push to war in Iraq.

Obama becomes the fourth American president to win the prize. Theodore Roosevelt, who won for his work ending the Russo-Japanese War, and Woodrow Wilson, for his efforts to form the League of Nations. Jimmy Carter, who brokered a peace deal between Israel and Egypt, won after leaving office».

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