Nobel Committee Pulls Oil Plug on Intervention
President Obama reads over his remarks regarding the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize with Senior Advisor David Axelrod and staff in the Outer Oval Office on Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Pete Souza/ The White House via Getty Images)
As soon as the Oslo committee issued its Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, an expected debate raged in America about the legitimacy of such a move so very early in a U.S. presidential term.
The debate will espouse the dividing lines between domestic and foreign policy issues and then, in a few weeks, will die out under the awe of new unfolding events. What will remain are future policy debates that will refer to one of the world's most prestigious awards as a fact in international relations.
Months and few short years from now, supporters of the "new direction" in U.S. foreign policy as well as academics will frame Obama's Nobel Peace Prize as a consolidation of a new world order, while the media outburst following the granting declaration will be forgotten.
Hence, bypassing the noise of did-he-earn-it-or-not deliberations, let us ask, what is the strategy behind the decision to grant this particular trophy to the sitting American president?
To answer this, we can simply connect the dots between the statements made by the grantor and the grantee. Most every American must be proud, and many people around the world are happy for such a decision to honor the president, although some U.S. leaders wished the committee had granted past presidents such as Bill Clinton for his gigantic efforts in worldwide humanitarian assistance.
The alternative choices are arguable, but this particular gesture isn't about past achievements, as the committee and the recipient have concurred. It is about supporting a specific policy, which has been enunciated firmly this year and is now being grounded in layers of moral recognition.
This honored policy is to ensure that there will be no more American interventions overseas to provoke democratic change, let alone revolutions, particularly in the so-called "Muslim world."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded "the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls and initiatives that have yet to bear fruit, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations."
In other words, the transnational group of academics, politicians, and multinational corporations involved in the Oslo process of the Nobel Peace Prize clearly has championed the policy of Western restraint from "meddling" in the domestic business of authoritarian regimes.
If previous unilateral interventions meant removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power, "multilateral approaches" meant not to pressure such types of regimes, as long as the latter's action didn't disrupt the flow of petrodollars.
The real message of the Prize's grantors is deeper than what it shyly states: You will be honored if you keep your hands off foreign countries' regimes and ideologies. Thus this recognition is not really about abstract notions or about climate change. It is a message from the authoritarians in the greater Middle East, via their economic partners in the West, to the United States, to quit pushing for democracy and intervening for human rights, as the previous administration said it would but failed to deliver.
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is based in Norway, which cooperates with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and often has joint ventures with its members. The latter is obviously controlled by the hardcore authoritarian members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League. These regimes, regardless of their bilateral disputes (such as Wahabis and Khomeinists), have one common ground: opposing the rise of democracy, their worst enemy, in their own midst.
U.S. intervention in Yugoslavia, moderating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or reaching out to dissidents in Myanmar is fine. But defeating the Taliban and empowering women, helping the reformers in Iran, the Cedars Revolution in Lebanon, or saving Darfur—all of that is forbidden.
The bureaucrats and advisers of the Oslo committee are in partnership with the OPEC-OIC web and thus have offered their "credibility" as part of efforts to block and reverse American support to the underdogs in the region. In their eyes, the Obama administration already delivered significantly in nine months. The war on terror is over, narrative against jihadism is deleted, OIC's "fatwa" on defamation of religion is endorsed, meddling in Iran's oppression of its citizens rejected, intervention in Darfur stopped, Ghadafi's terror forgotten, Assad regime's massacres forgiven, and Guantanamo is to be closed and U.S. Homeland Security directed against natural disasters instead of urban jihadism.
With such achievements, the "oil jihadi cartel" cannot but make a grand gesture to consolidate the new direction. In return, the powerful grantee accepted the prize as a "call to action," meaning the course will be stayed. Reaffirming the tenets of his Cairo speech, the president asserted that today's world is one of religions deserving "mutual interests and respect."
So, U.S. meddling in the Muslim world will be pulled back under Obama. The war in Iraq will be ended, regardless of Iran, Syria, and the jihadists' future interventions there. And there will be no escalation in the battlefield of Afghanistan, if only somehow the "ruthless adversary would stop threatening the United States."
The "other side" announced its agenda for America, and the latter accepted. Surely it is nice to receive a prominent prize, but it is important to see beyond our own nose. The hope is that the price for such an honor won't be a human rights catastrophe for the underdogs in the Muslim world.
Dr. Walid Phares is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of "The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy."