Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama's Premature Prize?

This year, the Nobel Peace Prize went to President Obama. But with less than a year in office, has he really earned such an honor? One of the major reasons for his win, according to Stein T√łnnesson of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, was to "encourage his further work for peace" and finish initiatives he started. Among these initiatives: a "return to respect for civic and human rights," rapprochement with the Muslim world, Iran and North Korea and withdrawing troops from Iraq. "Then a big question is if he can find a way to be peaceful also with relation to Afghanistan."

But that's just it. He has yet to actually do anything. Although the Nobel Committee has "encouraged" others in the past for their efforts without yet accomplishing their goals, has Obama taken enough substantial steps even to be encouraged in this manner?

Muslim-Americans are among the many minority groups thankful that the Bush Administration is no longer in power. We see Obama as a breath of fresh air, and hope (key work here) that he will at least try to undue the damage the Bush administration has caused between the Muslim world and the U.S., as well as fight civil rights issues Muslim-Americans face. Lastly, we hope that Obama will be a voice of reason, speaking against the atrocities that the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghanis face every day.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director, Nihad Awad echoed how Muslims feel when he said in a recent press release “We are pleased that our president has been awarded one of the highest honors for any world leader. Under president Obama’s leadership, our nation is beginning to restore its international image as a beacon of peace and justice. As the Nobel Committee stated, President Obama ‘has created a new international climate.’ We hope this prestigious prize will strengthen the president’s ability to help bring an end to international conflicts through the ‘dialogue and negotiations’ mentioned by the Nobel Committee and to eliminate the threat nuclear weapons pose to all of humanity."

This is all true, but let's not count our chickens before they're hatched. Obama has yet to fulfill his promise of closing Guantanamo (the one year deadline is probably not going to happen), and just this month, has backed out of his promise to find a better way to hold suspected terrorists than the Bush Administration. Also, the president has not addressed the issue of targeting Muslim-Americans in the U.S. Lastly, Obama has yet to do anything for the Palestinians who live as second-class citizens in their own homeland. What is more, what he says about the issue does not give us much hope for change.

Congradulations, Mr. President, on getting the world's hopes up.

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