As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Committee Behavioral Economics

Robert Naiman hits on a theme:

But anyone who thinks this award is unprecedented hasn't been paying attention.

The Nobel Committee gave South African Bishop Desmond Tutu the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his leadership of efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid wasn't fully abolished in South Africa until 1994. The committee could have waited until after apartheid was abolished to say, "Well done!" But the point of the award was to help bring down apartheid by strengthening Bishop Tutu's efforts. In particular, everyone knew that it was going to be much harder for the apartheid regime to crack down on Tutu after the Nobel Committee wrapped him in its protective cloak of world praise.

That's what the Nobel Committee is trying to do for Obama now. It's giving an award to encourage the change in world relations that Obama has promised, and to try to help shield Obama against his domestic adversaries. The committee is well aware that history is contingent and that Obama might fail. It knows very well that the same country that elected Obama also gave the world George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Indeed, the chairman of the Nobel Committee said today that they wanted to “enhance Obama’s diplomatic efforts so far rather than reward him for events in the future.” At a time when the President is trying to figure out what to do in Afghanistan, and has reached conclusions that are far more minimalist than the hawks would have wanted, maybe the Nobel Committee is trying to "nudge" him in the right direction?

As it reviews its Afghanistan policy for the second time this year, the Obama administration has concluded that the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a political or military movement, regardless of how many combat forces are sent into battle.

That's just not something the previous Administration would have concluded.

I hope the nudge works. Sincerely.

...And as for the most important actor in the outcome of this award? George W. Bush isn't releasing a statement. Class act. Actually, I wouldn't either if I were him. "Congratulations on being recognized as the repudiation of everything I did!"

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