One might say a lot about the bizarre decision to give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, starting with a few things about the panel that awarded it. Something you cannot say is that it is good news for the president.
Mr Obama has been in office just nine months. Apart from pushing through a controversial fiscal stimulus, he has done little. He gives memorable speeches, moves audiences and is widely admired. So far, that is it. The panel cited his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy”. Yes, he has changed the tone of US policy, which is good. But it is not unusual for a politician to give speeches. In foreign affairs, the most ardent admirer can point to no great exertion or persistence, let alone actual achievement.
As seen from the US, the timing is especially jarring. The committee has awarded its prize just as Mr Obama has begun to be the butt of jokes from previously friendly quarters about broken promises and the gap between words and deeds.
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