Land: Nobel committee still playing politics
DALLAS (BP)--The Norwegian Nobel Committee was dabbling in politics when it awarded its peace prize to President Obama this year, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said.
"I hate to say it, but it's not unusual for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to play politics," Land said on his weekly radio show Oct. 10. "They've done this before, and they've done it particularly in recent years.
"They gave the Noble Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter in 2002. They said they hoped at the time this was a kick in the knee for then-President George W. Bush," Land said. "They gave it to Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States."
Land said he thinks the Nobel committee wants to influence Obama, particularly regarding the war in Afghanistan.
"They are lobbying Barack Obama by giving him this Nobel Peace Prize. They are lobbying him to take an even more internationalist foreign policy, and they're trying to make it more difficult for him to keep his promise to fight the war in Afghanistan and to increase the troops," Land said.
"The pressure is not all that subtle. If you get the Nobel Peace Prize, then do you turn around and send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan? I believe that we should listen to the general who is in charge, who says he needs 40,000 more troops to do the job," Land said.
Broadcasting from the Dallas area on Saturday, Land described a political cartoon carried by the Dallas Morning News in which Obama is wearing a track uniform. At the start line, the Nobel committee is shown handing him the Nobel Peace Prize, and the caption says, "Here's your gold medal. Hope you run a good race."
Land went on to quote an editorial by the Dallas Morning News saying it's not Obama's fault that he won the Nobel Peace Prize but he doesn't deserve the honor.
"This judgment is no reflection on the president's character or abilities," the editorial said, "but rather on the embarrassingly politicized judgment of the Nobel committee. Though not being George W. Bush may cause impressionable Norwegians to flush with ardor, it is not an actual Nobel-worthy accomplishment."
The editorial lamented, "By awarding this celebrated prize to a president who hasn't had the time to achieve anything substantial on the world stage, the Nobel committee has demeaned the award's value, and put Obama in a difficult position."
Land also quoted an editorial by The Times in London, which said, "The committee has put hope above results, promise above achievement. The prize undermines the selfless triumphs of earlier winners. Indeed, the award's obvious political intent looks partisan, a signal of European relief at the end of the Bush presidency."
"Well, I think that's true," Land said, "but I think we need to go further than that. As I said earlier, I think the Nobel prize committee is trying to lobby this president to pull him in an even more left-wing direction by giving him the Nobel Peace Prize."
Obama may make treaties and accomplish goals during the course of his presidency that will merit a Nobel prize, Land said, but he hasn't done it yet.
"Let me give you some contrast to President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize," Land said. "The newest Nobel laureate, President Barack Obama, in nine months in office has found time to meet with Hugo Chavez, the thug that runs Venezuela, Daniel Ortega, the thug that runs Nicaragua, and Vladimir Putin, the thug that effectively runs Russia.
"But he hasn't found time to meet with the Dali Lama, a peaceful religious leader who has long been a friend to the U.S. and an advocate of human rights for China's 6 billion Tibetans," Land said. "Mr. Obama's slight is the first time a sitting president will not meet with the Dali Lama during a Washington visit since President George H.W. Bush met with him in 1991."
Land said the exiled Tibetan's trip to the United States has been planned for years and earlier the Dali Lama expressed hope to meet with the president. But Obama, Land said, doesn't want to offend the Chinese by meeting with the Dali Lama before his visit to Beijing in November.
Presidential meetings with the Dali Lama, Land said, are important because they affirm the religious and democratic freedoms America stands for while setting a global precedent. China routinely assails countries whose leaders meet with the Dali Lama, he said, and rewarding China's bullying only encourages more bullying.
"It's becoming clear that Mr. Obama's definition of engagement leaves plenty of room to meet with dictators but less room for those who challenge them," Land said.
"I would just ask you as a listener to juxtapose the image of Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and contrast that with the image of his kowtowing to the Chinese premier and agreeing not to meet with the Dali Lama until after his meetings in Beijing. This is not one of the president's finer moments."
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press. Richard Land's weekly radio program, "Richard Land Live!" can be accessed on the Web at www.richardlandlive.com.