Obama’s Nobel

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize today and AFP reported the immediate reactions of world leaders to the news. Europe fawned, Desmond Tutu thought it was wonderful, Shimon Peres thought it could be a good asset for the peace process in the Middle East as did, at least according to his spokesman, President Ahmedinejad.  As of yet, and it is still early, the AFP reported that U.S. conservatives, Hamas and Lech Walesa had found this year’s Nobel choice to be a deeply troubling one. The interesting question to ask here is if the intent to give Obama the prize was partially motivated by the hope that it would bolster his chances of moving on peace issues and his attempt to make good on his Cairo speech and the Palestinian peace process in particular, will it work? Who does Obama need to convince more to help make peace in the Middle East? Israel and Europe or Hamas and U.S. Conservatives? A quick read of Middle East newspapers paints a picture of an Arab public which is rather wary of Obama’s foreign policy and still upset about his inaction over Israel’s military operation in Gaza. Obama needs both Israel and the Arab world’s trust and the Nobel prize might focus the negotiating mind, so to speak, especially U.S. and Israeli minds, on the Peace Process. But Obama also needs to produce some action, soon, to convince a big, waiting Middle East public of his evenhandedness in this all. It is not clear whether the Nobel prize will aid or prove bothersome in this hefty task.