Errant European

24 hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Middle East peace is “impossible” and, especially helpfully in case that message appeared overly pessimistic, that many countries “have learned to live with” a permanent state of war, the Nobel Committee has awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama.

The President’s personal honor can be shared with all those Americans who voted for him almost one year ago – they made the election of a potential peace maker possible. I stress potential, for that is obviously what the Nobel Committee has in mind in designating a President who currently has not one but two wars on his hands:

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman.

As a former diplomat who joined hundreds of my colleagues in campaigning for Obama last year, it is gratifying that the Nobel Committee cited him for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.”

The award can’t have come at a more important juncture. Not only must the US deal with a belligerent Israeli government personified by Avigdor Lieberman, but Obama must craft an Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran policy that may contain as many military “elements of national power” as diplomatic. The Nobel people are aware of this more than most, and want to put their weight preemptively on the side of diplomatic solutions.

At the same time, since the President will probably have to give the 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.4 million) to the US Treasury, the Nobel Foundation is doing its bit to help the parlous state of the deficit. With the dollar falling by the day, those kronor might be even more valuable next week.

Seriously, the President brings great credit to an office that was entirely discredited by his predecessor, who practiced preventive war instead of waging peace. My humble congratulations.

Now, to the job at hand. Please, Mr. President, have a heart-to-heart talk with Mr. Lieberman and his boss Bibi, who once said that the 9/11 attack on the US was good for Israel. Talk about giving fodder to the conspiracy theorists…

Gerald Loftus, who writes in Avuncular American, is also a spokesman for Democrats Abroad Belgium, but his opinions here are entirely his own.

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