Like many people, I was highly critical of the awarding of the Nobel Award to President Barack Obama in 2009 before he had done anything as president. Now the ex-Secretary for the Nobel Prize Geir Lundestad has admitted that Obama did not deserve the prize but rather they thought the award would strengthen Obama. It is a maddening admission that the committee bypassed a list of worthy candidates with proven contributions to humanity to give a boost to someone that the Committee simply liked. That would seem grossly unethical but Lundestad merely acknowledged that it did not seem to work.
As I discussed at the time, Obama beat out various more worthy candidates including Dr. Sima Samar who is an amazingly brave Afghan woman who has risked her life to fight for the rights of women and girls in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The chairwomen of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Samar was the first Hazara woman to obtain a medical degree from Kabul University. She has had to repeatedly flee for her life but has insisted on returning time and time again to treat the poor and fight for women’s rights — in an area where feminists are routinely killed or sprayed with acid by extremists.
Samar also opposed the rise of Sharia law and religious radicals. Extremists forced her out as Deputy President and later Minister of Women’s Affairs.
For civil libertarians, the comparison of Samar and Obama could not be more striking. Where Obama has repeatedly refused to fight for principle and yielded to politics (in areas like torture, privacy, and detainee rights), Samar has refused to yield on principle — even at the risk of her own life. While Obama was in office less than two weeks before his nomination, Samar has spent a lifetime fighting for oppressed women in Afghanistan.
Obama was given an award after a short (and rather unremarkable stint) as a junior Senator and before doing anything as president — the same award given to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Jane Addams, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu.
Geir Lundestad and his colleagues rejected Samar and others because they wanted to boost Obama. In his memoir entitled Secretary of Peace, Lundestad admits “No Nobel Peace Prize ever elicited more attention than the 2009 prize to Barack Obama . . . Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake. In that sense the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.”
That is Lundestad’s way of explaining a decision that openly ignored the premise of the prize, ignored humanitarians with inspiring records, and gave the leading humanitarian award to someone without single credible claim to that prize.
Lundestad’s book is lacking any evidence of an ethical commitment to the history of the Nobel or its underling principles.