The ex-secretary of the Nobel Committee says in a soon-to-be-released book that awarding the Peace Prize to Barack Obama in 2009 did not have the desired effect.
Geir Lundestad served as secretary to the committee for 25 years until he retired near the end of last year. In a new book, which is set to be released Thursday, Lundestad says awarding Obama the Peace Prize was intended to strengthen his hand but that it did not have the desired effect. He writes, “Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake. In that sense the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.”
Lundestad’s book echoes statements he made to Norwegian news outlet Aftenposten last year, shortly after his retirement. At the time, he said the Peace Prize was awareded to recognize Obama’s achievement of becoming America’s first black President and also because the committee believed the new President shared their values on diplomacy, human rights, and environmental policy. But Lunestad recognized the prize came too early and did not wind up strengthening Obama’s hand at home.
The new book is also heavily critical of Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland. With regard to the 2009 Peace Prize, Lundestad claims Jagland was enthusiastic about giving Obama the prize but adds that the chairman had surprising gaps in his knowledge. Lundestad says the chairman credited Obama for saving the ABM treaty when, in reality, George W. Bush had withdrawn the U.S. from the ABM Treaty in 2002.
Special thanks to Twitter user @mesquito84 for help parsing a Norwegian news story.