Plenty has already been written on why Barack Obama didn’t really deserve to win the Nobel peace prize, and in general I agree with it. But one thing that bothers me – and I’ll confess here that my views on foreign policy are strongly non-interventionist – is that people seem to be labouring under the delusion that Obama is some kind of pacifist. He isn’t. Sure, he rose to fame and political fortune as an opponent of the Iraq war. And yes, he did initially promise to withdraw American troops from Iraq and close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he became president. But he hasn’t done those things.
As Cato’s Jason Kuznicki points out, the withdrawal from Iraq has been delayed and partial, and is now described by the White House as “complicated”. Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s policies on detention and rendition have remained largely intact. Obama might have railed against the executive powers the Bush administration invented for itself when he was a presidential candidate, but now he’s in the Oval Office he seems to like them. It is also worth noting that Obama is considering sending 60,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, to fight a war with unclear objectives and little real prospect of success. Again, that hardly strikes me as a peaceful act.
Of course, you can’t really blame the Nobel prize committee for not realizing Obama wouldn’t stick to his promises, can you? After all, he had only been president for 12 days when nominations closed.