Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, perhaps the only Minnesota politician with the word “peace” in his job title, says the Nobel Peace Prize for President Obama is “deeply problematic. It rewards rhetoric over substance.” The prize may have been awarded in expectation of more bold action, says Nelson-Pallmeyer, who hopes the honor spurs fundamental change in United States foreign policy.
Nelson-Pallmeyer, assistant professor of justice and peace studies at the University of St. Thomas, sees Obama’s prize as a symbol and symptom of the “great relief” felt by people in America and around the world that what he terms “the period of the Great Revulsion” – the Bush administration – is over.
But the president so far hasn’t measured up to the broad hopes he stirred, Nelson-Pallmeyer told the Minnesota Independent via email:
Obama’s message of hope and change resonate with many, but the desire for authentic hope and real change are deeper than Obama’s words and far deeper than his actions to date. The Nobel Committee may be attempting to encourage the President to act more boldly.
As a politician, Nelson-Pallmeyer twice pressed peace and other progressive issues all the way to DFL Party endorsing conventions – for Congress in 2006 and U.S. Senate in 2008, before finally giving way to Keith Ellison and Al Franken, respectively.
By the time Obama took office, Nelson-Pallmeyer was already worried that progressive efforts to influence his position on war in Afghanistan were too late. The announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize for Obama finds Nelson-Pallmeyer still holding out a little hope:
Escalating wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan based on inflating the almost non-existent threat of al Qaida will continue to bankrupt the country morally and financially. … One can only hope that receiving the prize will encourage Obama to fundamentally change the direction of U.S. foreign policies under his watch. Without such a change in course, the period of hope following the Great Revulsion will likely give way to the period of the Great Disappointment.