Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and rebuilding “Brand USA”

Well, the Peace Prize. Wow! What? First thoughts were astonishment, to say the least. How to make sense of it?

Coming so early in Obama’s first term as president, one can only assume that the Nobel Committee has decided to award the peace prize to Obama for political reasons rather than for what he has actually accomplished.

What do I mean by this?

Well, the Committee has never been shy about criticising those in power who have strayed from the path of peace and justice; it did this to George W. Bush throughout his presidential tenure. It has also been quick, at times,  to reward those who follow the path of peace, even though the outcome of a particular journey is far from certain.  I would argue that the 1994 Arafat/Rabin/Peres Peace Prize is an example of this.

Therefore, this year’s Nobel appears to be awarded as a means of reinforcing and shaping the discourse of peace that has been central to Obama’s philosophy both during the presidential campaign and in his first nine months as president. It is, in other words, a form of lobbying, an international kickback, if you like.

And why not? If you project yourself as the most powerful country in the world, then why shouldn’t those outsiders who might also be affected by your actions and policies be able to lobby you in all sorts of ways, either subtly or directly.

This prize is just another example of the Obama Effect on global politics. We reported not long ago the popularity of Obama outside of the U.S.  More figures have come to hand this week that further demonstrate how well respected Obama has become on a global scale and how much has changed since the departure of Bush. Take a look at these poll results taken from an annual survey that ranks a number of countries as trusted brands:

The Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey on which countries are most admired and appreciated around the world has been conducted annually since 2005. This year the US topped the list for the first time, climbing six spots.

The United States this year shifted into first place from seventh place last year, a move that the pollsters describe as unprecedented in the history of the poll. They go on to say that in nine short months, Obama had rebuilt America as a trusted global brand. Now he’s just got to rebuild popularity at home ….

  2009 2008
1. United States Germany
2. France France
3. Germany United Kingdom
4. United Kingdom Canada
5. Japan Japan
6. Italy Italy
7. Canada United States
8. Switzerland Switzerland
9. Australia Australia
10. Spain, Sweden (tie) Sweden


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One Response

  1. I loved this comment from a US State Department official:

    “Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes.”

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