I have to confess I was more than a little shocked by the news that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this year. It’s not that I don’t like Obama or think him a worthy politician it’s just that yes, I confess, even as an Obama supporter I do wonder what he has actually done to deserve the prize. It, to my mind, is a indication of how heartily sick the international community was of George W Bush and the Republican’s ‘invade first, ask questions later’ approach to foreign policy. They are so desperate to applaud Obama and encourage him away from that disasterous approach that they have awarded him this prize; in other words, it is less the Nobel Peace Prize and more the ‘congratulations on not being George Bush’ prize.
Obama presents the world with the acceptable; almost cuddly, liberal face of American power and given the previous regime the world can hardly be blamed for liking what it sees and wanting to reward that. However, there is another side to American power which was buried under the news of Obama’s shocking award; the side that still refuses to deal justly with other nations and still has a hyper-inflated sense of it’s own power and moral scruples. Gary McKinnon has been refused permission to appeal against his extradition to the US.
Nick Clegg has rightly called for the Home Secretary to block McKinnon’s extradition and there should be a wider change of the one-sided terms of extradition to America. Despite Obama’s efforts it is quite clear that no matter how benign a face he put’s on it America is still determined to wield it’s waning influence in ways that simply do not take account of the rights of other nations nor such things as justice and all that good stuff.
One of the things that the Lisbon Treaty (despite its imperfections) has to recommend it is how it strengthens a European Union presence in foreign policy; no matter the awards and plaudits heaped on Obama this is still something that is desperately needed in the world.