Saturday, December 12, 2009
One downside of retirement is I have more time to obsess about what troubles me. If I were still working, I’d be too busy grading papers to be obsessing about Afghanistan and Obama’s Nobel Prize.
I am in the minority who thinks Obama deserves the award. I don’t share the disillusionment of many of my left wing friends with Obama. He inherited a horrendous mess. There were no good options in Afghanistan and the economic disaster was not of his making. And as for the difficulty of getting real health care reform passed, although the Democrats control congress, Obama does not have an ideological majority. A lot of those blue dogs might as well be Republicans.
But the escalation in Afghanistan gave me pause. I had hoped for a different decision. There is an argument for trying to stabilize a region in which there is a real possibility of nuclear weapons winding up in the hands of some truly scary people. But is increasing troop levels the way to forestall this? I've read some compelling arguments against Obama’s surge—even from Arlen Specter! So I’m very uncertain about all this and worried, really worried.
Yet I still think President Obama deserves the Nobel Prize and am happy it was awarded to him—-largely because of what this says about the world’s changing view of our country. In less than a year Obama has dramatically changed the image of the US. In the first days of his administration he declared an end to torture, the intention to close Guantanamo, his commitment to a world without nuclear weapons and , in the truly remarkable Cairo speech, he reached out to the Muslim world. Granted it’s more promise than achievement, but after 8 years of Bush/Cheney such a dramatic shift counts for a lot. Obama has raised the hopes of people around the globe that just maybe another world is possible.