Kirsters Baish| The Nobel Peace Committee failed to achieve what they had hoped to achieve through awarding then-President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2009, as explained by the committee’s ex-secretary.
The Associated Press news agency spoke to Geir Lundestad, who explained that the committee had hoped the award would help make Obama a stronger leader.
The decision to honor Obama with the award was actually met with harsh criticism from Americans. People felt that he hadn’t done anything to earn the award. In his memoir, “Secretary of Peace.” Lundestad explained that Obama was actually just as surprised as everyone else when he received the award.
The memoir reads, “No Nobel Peace Prize ever elicited more attention than the 2009 prize to Barack Obama.”
He went on, “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”.
Lundestad also wrote that the former President almost didn’t go pick up the award in Oslo, Norway, where it was being presented to him. His staff had questioned if previous winners of the award had not taken part in the ceremony. They found that the answer was only on very rare occasions, for example when dissidents were kept back by their respective governments.
Lundestad’s book reads, “In the White House they quickly realised that they needed to travel to Oslo.”
Between the years 1990 to 2015, Lundestad served as the non-voting, however still influential, secretary for the committee.
He doesn’t take after tradition in which the secretive committee barely ever discusses proceedings.
The BBC reports:
The book also gives other insights into the activities of the committee:
According to Mr Lundestad, Jonas Gahr Store, then Norway’s foreign minister, tried in 2010 to dissuade the panel from awarding the prize to a Chinese dissident, fearing it would strain the country’s relationship with Beijing. The Nobel committee ignored the warnings and honoured Liu Xiaobo.
Mr Lundestad also criticises Thorbjorn Jagland, who was the committee chairman for six years and is now a regular member. He said that as a former Norwegian prime minister, Mr Jagland should never have been appointed to the committee, which frequently stresses its independence.
In an amusing anecdote, Mr Lundestad relates how he found Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who won the award in 1994, watching an episode of the Tom and Jerry cartoon in his hotel with other Palestine Liberation Organisation members. “It was made very clear that they intended to watch until the end,” he said.
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on October 9.