As many have noted, it is hilarious and stunning that our President was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize when he had been in office 11 days, and that he won it without any major international accomplishment to his credit. But consider how President Obama and Democrats have treated his fellow honorees and their most-beloved causes and countries.
The Dalai Lama
This week, President Obama declined to meet with Tibet’s Dalai Lama when he was in Washington, the first time a President has failed to meet with His Holiness during a visit to the United States. While the White House has publicly stated that this was a mutual decision based on scheduling difficulties, observers have widely speculated that this was an effort to appease China in advance of President Obama’s visit there in November. China, of course, is the very government that has oppressed the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan people, and from which he has sought relief and freedom for his entire life while living in exile. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for this peaceful and nonviolent struggle.
Aung San Suu Kyi
For months, Senator Jim Webb has sought to aggrandize the Burmese government and lift sanctions that the United States have imposed since 2003. President Obama blessed Webb’s recent visit to Burma, has done nothing to dissuade his Democratic colleague from his efforts, and his State Department issued visas upon Sen. Webb’s request that allowed Burmese representatives into the country last month (for a hearing where he refused to allow opponents to speak). Burma, of course, is the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize “for her nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights.” Burma has held Kyi under house arrest for years in retaliation for her efforts to free her people. When Sen. Webb visited her earlier this year, he emerged from the conference to say that Kyi supported his efforts wholeheartedly. Burmese activists have strongly disputed this account, and Kyi herself has graciously avoided conflict with Webb while affirming her opposition to the junta. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has signaled that it may be willing to lift sanctions against Burma.
President Obama toured Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel in June of this year. During their visit, Wiesel slammed those who hadn’t learned from the Holocaust, and specifically called on the President to bring “a sense of security for Israel, a sense of security for its neighbors,” clearly invoking the Holocaust denials and threats issued by Iran’s Ahmedinejad. But rather than create that sense of security, President Obama has taken no steps to protect Israel or its neighbors from Iran’s growing nuclear threat. Instead, he has demanded that Israel stop expanding into territories it won in a war waged to bring about its destruction. Indeed, his representatives have met face to face with Iranian diplomats, engaging in direct diplomacy with a government that promises the world that Israel will be “wiped off the map.” Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
When President Ahmedinejad was up for reelection in June 2009, there was not much hope among international observers that there would be real change in that country. Even if Ahmedinejad had lost the election, his opponent Mir Hossain Mousavi was believed to be just a different face for the theocratic radicals that rule behind the scenes. But no one could have anticipated the populist uprising that would demand true democracy, human rights, and the end of the Islamic Revolution. During those transformative weeks, Mousavi became a champion for democracy, women in scarves and burqas were at the forefront of street protests and demonstrations, and young men and women thronged in the boulevards of Tehran, shouting not “Death to America!” but “Death to the dictator!.” An Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot by the Basij, and the video of her death became the symbol of the protests. Ultimately, police and armed militias arrested or killed hundreds of protesters and ended the immediate threat to the government by force.
Shirin Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize “for her efforts for democracy and human rights” in Iran. As the Nobel Committee noted, “[s]he has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.” Long a target of the Iranian regime and its surrogates, Ebadi called for new elections during the post-election strife, and she has not been able to return to her country since. She has criticized the West for placing nuclear negotiations ahead of demands for human rights and democracy, saying that “[u]ndemocratic countries are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. It’s undemocratic countries that jeopardise international peace.” Rather than a strengthening of relations, she has called for “the downgrading of Western embassies, the withdrawal of ambassadors and the freezing of the assets of Iran’s leaders.” The Obama Administration, on the other hand, took days to state that the election was fraudulent, and more to say that its fraud was significant. In the weeks and months since, it has initiated direct negotiations with Ahmedinejad’s government, with no apparent repercussions for his fraudulent election or the violent oppression of Iran’s people.
So I ask: How can President Obama stand next to these courageous Nobel laureates, wearing the same prize given to Linas Pauling, George Marshall, Lech Walesa, and Mother Teresa, and feel worthy of the award?