White House Was Angered by Obama's Peace Prize, Which Still Haunts the Nobel Committee

Some committee members accused of being fawning, starstruck.

Utenrisk Departementet NorwayUtenrisk Departementet NorwayIn 2009 then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly laid into the Norwegian ambassador to the United States, Wegger Christian Strømmen, after it was announced that President Obama was awarded that year's Nobel Peace Prize. Strømmen's colleague, Morten Wetland, says that the White House was angry about the award, which immediately proved controversial. Obama's prize has taken center stage in the debate about re-appointments to the Norwegian Nobel Committee this year.

"Many people thought awarding Obama the Peace Prize was pretty embarrassing," Wetland tells Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian business newspaper. Wetland was the Norwegian ambassador to the United Nations at the time of the award. "An American president would like to set his own agenda. In this case he was forced into a role that he did not seek. Besides, it was only one year into his first presidential term. It can seem as if someone did this to get Barack Obama to visit their country."

The former official says that was the most embarrassing day he had on the job as an ambassador to the U.N. "My coworker in Washington got a tongue-lashing from Obama's chief of staff," Wetland says. "Getting yelled at is a big part of an ambassador's job. They [Obama's people] probably went after the first person they could get their hands on, and Emanuel is known for being profane and direct. The word 'fawning' was used."  

As Reason reported at the time, the awarding of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was all about Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland seeking press for his organization by stroking the new American president. His "grand thinking," as commentators put it, was that such an award would be impossible to ignore. In public statements, Jagland made it sound as if the prize was the international community's endorsement of the president's electoral victory.

Wetland's op-ed about Emanuel's conversation with Ambassador Strømmen was spurred by upcoming decisions about the membership of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. Several of the members of the Nobel Committee are up for re-appointment this fall. There are bound to be changes, as the majority in the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament with the power to select members, changed during the elections last fall. Many are arguing that Jagland should not be re-appointed, and the prize that was given to Obama is among the foremost arguments.

Wetland is among the people arguing that the next round of appointments should include candidates from outside Norway, such as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan or Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs and former prime minister with several international diplomatic appointments under his belt. The Committee has never had foreign members before.

Wetland says that most people considered the award as very strange at the time. "We must ensure prevention of the impression that we here in Norway can get 'starstruck' and appreciate fancy state visits. Even if this has not been the case so far, there is cause to be aware of the issue."

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  • sarcasmic||

    How many people do you have to kill to get a Peace Prize?

  • Restoras||

    It's not how many that matters most, it's the color of their skin and the region they live in. Oh, and using drones instead soldiers.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    Drones are the key component to winning the prize I think. You see, when drones kill, it is rather nice, kinda like an abortion. No fuss, no mess....well a few exploded body parts, but pretty easy overall and we can get on with our day.

    Drones aren't like real, you know, "real" war.

  • steedamike||

    It's not "War"-War.

  • Loki||

    The onlt thing better would be to have all wars fought via computer simulation, with "casualties" calmly reporting to incineration chambers, Tase of Armegeddon style.

  • sasob||

    It's not "legitimate" war?

  • DarrenM||

    The body parts are biodegradable.

  • msimmons||

    Dude, the prize was like five years ago.

  • wareagle||

    I think you have to kill them after the fact, in order to justify receipt of the prize.

  • ||

    Ask Yasir Arafat.

  • Jose Chung||

    None, you have the drones do the killing for you.

  • robc||

    Mambership?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    he was forced into a role that he did not seek.

    Does this mean he would have been even more aggressive if this "peace prize" had not hobbled him?

  • DJF||

    We would have taken Ukraine and been advancing on Volgograd (Stalingrad)

  • msimmons||

    ...and Assad would be gone, dude, like two years ago.

  • DarrenM||

    It's a good thing he graciously declined it.

  • ||

    Besides, it was only one year into his first presidential term.

    That's not only technically incorrect, but also disingenuous. The actual award was announced in October, 9 months into his term. But the nomination deadline for the 2009 prize was February 1st - 11 days after his inauguration. They could just as easily have rationalized giving the award to John McCain based on his losing the election and sparing the world the nuclear holocaust he was obviously going to start.

  • DJF||

    Plus have him win the Eurovision contest with his number 1 song hit

    "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”

  • Eric||

    That was McCain.

  • ||

    Yes, I'm pretty sure he was responding to the last sentence in my post. I.e, "In addition to rationalizing giving McCain the Nobel Peace Prize on that basis, they could have given him the Eurovision prize for his song Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran"

  • Rich||

    Wetland is among the people arguing that the next round of appointments should include candidates from outside Norway

    Right! Fuck the will of Alfred Nobel!

  • Rich||

    I retract my snark, since I see the appointments must merely be made by the Norwegian Parliament.

    Still, something smells like lutefisk ....

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Nort Dawkota?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Nord Dawkota

    Ain't so such phoneme as a hard 'T' here in Minnesoda

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Of course. Soft T and D should alike to me.

    I work with a bunch from Mondak and Minnesota and inevitably by the end of a conversation of any length, I'm talking in a Southern Canadian accent.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Nothing smells like lutefisk. Or at least a house - buttoned up tight against the cold of a Minnesota winter- where some crazed Norwegian is cooking up a mess of lutefisk.

    That stench lasts for weeks.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Reminds me of the scene in Frozen...of course EVERYTHING reminds me of a scene in Frozen considering I have seen that movie 7,263 times to date.

  • bob sacomano||

    My brain went immediately from seeing "lutefisk" to the jolly merchant from Frozen too.

    Not ashamed!

  • Fluffy||

    So what you're telling me is that when your only asset is the prestige associated with an award you give out, it's not a good idea to give that award to someone who doesn't deserve it?

    SHOCKING

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Before giving out honors most organizations send out feelers to gauge the recipients attitude towards the honor. Did the Nobel people not unofficially contact Obama's people prior to awarding him?

    There has to have been some communication eff-up somewhere along the line.

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    Nobody ever suspects the Nobel Committee.

  • creech||

    Our Glorious Leader had no clue he had been awarded the Nobel Prize until he read about it in the morning papers.

  • Almanian!||

    Obama and his people had no idea about it until they read it in the papers, "just like everyone else."

    /story of this administration

  • OneOut||

    And no one is more angry about it than Obama. And he will get to the bottom of it and when he finds out who is responsible justice will be served ( unless they are in Libya and don't give themselves up ).

    Period.

    A reasonable person would think these people would have enough self awareness to realize they have used that play a few times too often. Even the MSM has trouble saying it with a straight face.

  • msimmons||

    ...and he's mad as hell and his sycophants have the scars to prove it...from like 30 days ago, dude.

  • Pulseguy||

    Do you think Obama would have refused the prize?? I don't think so.

  • wareagle||

    so Barack's a victim here? Come on. Sorry, but this notion of an enraged Emmanuel years after the prize was given smacks of bullshit.

  • Jerryskids||

    Doing a quick Google news search returns tons of hits on this story, but if you set the filter to only include news stories from more than a few days ago, you get nothing. So apparently the outrage over the award was a closely guarded secret or it never happened. Any word of confirmation on this story from Emanuel? 'Cause otherwise it stinks.

  • bassjoe||

    I don't think it's surprising this wasn't public at the time. If true, this is something that could conceivably stay hidden for years. It's not uncommon for undiplomatic diplomatic conversations to not get the light of day for a while, to save embarrassment for those involved. At least until the embarrassment can be used to somebody's benefit.

    The campaign to get rid of the current director of the committee might have led to the disclosure by his political opponents as the embarrassment serves their interests.

  • msimmons||

    A trial balloon perhaps to consider returning it. A moment of humility to fill the news cycle for days. I can see them sitting around thinking up bullshite to feed their operatives, sucking up any oxygen that might fuel coverage of "phony" scandals.

  • AustinRoth||

    I call BS for the stated reason Obama got the NPP.

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    President Not My Fault strikes again!

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Now the Al Gore prize - HE totally earned that one.
    For the Planet!
    For the Internet!

    ...and to flip a finger to Bush!

  • OneOut||

    What about the children ?

    Why do you hate the children ?

  • John C. Randolph||

    It's long past time for the Nobel committee to rescind the prizes they've given to Obama, Kissinger, Arafat, and I'm sure there are others.

    -jcr

  • jdgalt||

    Kissinger earned his. Carter's is debatable (does being the wussiest president up to his time count as being a man of peace?) But once they gave awards to Gore/IPCC and Krugman, much less Obama, the Nobels were discredited. It will take decades to change that back, if it ever happens.

    Sooner or later I hope Norway's king will figure out they're making a monkey of him and resign.

  • DFG||

    In 2002 they gave the award to Jimmy Carter only as a criticism of Bush's policy toward Iraq, yet he gladly accepted it. I think Obama would have scored a lot more points had he turned it down while thanking them for the gesture. But I guess we all know that was never really going to happen.

  • dpbisme||

    The second "Pop" President, Clinton was the first, who had done "exactly" nothing. The only way they could have justified it would have been to give him the prize for his speeches and books, Best Fiction, but they did not. I find it hard to believe that no one ion the world deserved it more than him, and of course there were many who did. It just goes to show you that the LEFT has taken over many of the institutions of the world... Then again OBAMA could have refuse it,,, he did not because e he is pretty sure of his greatness.

  • guru||

    Wait someone actually takes the nobel prize seriously?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    In physics they take it seriously...peace and lit? not so much.

  • DJK||

    Meh. Even in physics, there are some jokes in the Nobel Prizes that are awarded. I'm thinking of the graphite synthesis using Scotch tape that was awarded a few years ago.

  • DJK||

    And it's just as subject to politics as other Prizes. Stern and Gerlach, for instance. Sure, Gerlach was a dirty Nazi, but he still had a huge impact (probably more than Stern) on physics.

  • Christophe||

    Well the peace prize's been a joke for a while, and the economics prize is mostly a trailing indicator of what the economic mainstream's thinking about.

    The others are still pretty damn respectable. Which is exactly why we don't hear about them much.

  • bassjoe||

    It's still considered the gold standard in Chemistry, Physics, & Medicine, enough to get recipients awesome parking spots at whatever university s/he works at.

    The other Prizes -- Peace, Lit, Economics -- are and always have been at least a bit political. You can't really separate politics from those areas...

  • JWatts||

    Well more people used to take it seriously than do now. But it took a big hit in prestige when they gave it to Obama because he Was Not Bush. Since, Obama hadn't done anything constructive at the point he was nominated for the prize.

  • Redmanfms||

    The biggest hit to prestige the Nobel Prize has taken in recent years was the award to Yassir Arafat for signing an entirely meaningless peace treaty with the Israelis that he and his people no longer had the juice to enforce, something anybody who paid even the slightest attention to the Israel-Palestine thing knew about.

    Even before that The Nobel Committee awarded Gorbachev a prize for nuclear reductions that were actually the product of hard-nosed negotiating on the part of the Reagan-administration.

    They gave a warmongering jackass like Teddy Roosevelt a peace prize in 1906.

    The Lit. and Peace categories have always been bullshit.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    It was an affirmative action Nobel, there really is no other way to understand it, just like Halle Berry's Academy Award.

  • Matthew Cline||

    It wasn't an affirmative action prize, but a "Thank God You're not Bush" prize.

  • DarrenM||

    They couldn't have just given him a bobble-head doll?

  • american socialist||

    Maybe they just contrasted him with his predecessor and that was enough. Obama ended the Iraq War and has presided over one of the fastest decreases in military spending since 1945. Libertarians on Reason made excuses for George Bush's war and now they want to hector those of us who voted for our Messiah. I didn't see CATO or Reason at anti war rallies in 2002-2003. There's nothing here in the comments I can't read over at glennbeck.com. They hate George Bush too--and made excuses for him in 2006 and will make excuses for whatever right-winger that lies us into a war. Most of you here will too.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    That's pretty good. You had me going for a few moments there.

  • american socialist||

    Do you want a period piece from Reason around 2003 or from any number of CATO board members back then? Those are pretty good too.

  • Free Society||

    That's interesting, your claim that Reason wasn't anti-Iraq war in 2003. Or are you suggesting that Reason Magazine as an entity should have attended anti-war rallies with some kind of avatar representing it?

  • american socialist||

    We'll certainly I would trust socialist groups to be more reliable in their denunciation of u.s. Military action than Reason contributors. Reason contributors weren't anti war in 2003 so why should I expect them to be at anti war rallies?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 11:38AM|#
    "We'll certainly I would trust socialist groups to be more reliable in their denunciation of u.s. Military action than Reason contributors."

    So, you're not real bright. Not surprising.

  • american socialist||

    You are going to this, right ?

    http://www.fightbacknews.org/2.....und-drones

  • Sevo||

    Why, look there! There must be 40 or 50 people who call themselves socialists holding signs and probably voting for the war monger!
    Gee, as, what a...............
    pathetic effort.

  • soflarider||

    "We'll certainly I would trust socialist groups to be more reliable in their denunciation of u.s. Military action than Reason contributors."

    So where are these war protesters now? Where have they been since early 2009?
    Reliable? Hardly.
    Reliably partisan? Yes.

    Where's the mainstream media's nightly drumbeat on the Afghan War?

  • Sevo||

    When as comes posting, you need your highest boots.

  • #||

    It's also interesting that a person calling themselves "american socialist" is sucking Obama's dick.

  • american socialist||

    I've learned when it comes to this freak out country with thousands of nuclear weapons and "libertarians" willing to go along with trillion dollar, right-wing wars, you have to take what you can get. Sure I'd like Pierre Trudeau, but is that really going to happen in this country of radio talk show morons screaming Benghazi? Would someone like that even want the job?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 11:44AM|#
    "I've learned when it comes to this freak out country with thousands of nuclear weapons and "libertarians" willing to go along with trillion dollar, right-wing wars,"

    Which means you're, shall we say, 'learning other-abled'.
    Again, not surprising.

  • Pulseguy||

    Trudeau destroyed Canada's economy. Or, perhaps you didn't notice as your pogie went up.

  • Sevo||

    Anyone who prefers coercion to persuasion can hang it out and as will be there in a minute!
    If it'd not done by thugs with guns, as wants no part of it.

  • american socialist||

    Is that like when Reason and CATO made excuses for George Bush's war or something else ?

  • soflarider||

    Didn't the NYT do the same?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 12:15PM|#
    "Is that like when Reason and CATO made excuses for George Bush's war or something else ?"

    Is that like your innuendo below?

  • ||

    Is that like when Reason and CATO made excuses for George Bush's war

    [citation needed]

    It's okay that you're a brainless twat, but try not to be a liar as well.

  • Free Society||

    Interesting choice of adjectives there with "fastest", to describe sequester cuts that he pissed and moaned about.

    But hurray he 'gave us' the 'fastest' slight decrease since some other (actually significant) decrease. He never cut to even pre-Bush levels, but nevermind that, he must be fucking Ghandi.

  • #||

    He also trippled spending on afganistan, which cost's more per troop than Iraq did due to it's remoteness. All Obama did was take the ton of money we were spending on Iraq, wind it down on exactly the Bush schedule plan he inherited (though he attempted to keep troops there longer) and then shove all of that money over to afganistan and then some. Defense sepending is larger now than it was at the height of the bush era.

  • Free Society||

    The rewriting of history takes place in real-time for these people.

  • Sevo||

    Note here for an example of as's "honesty":

    "Libertarians on Reason made excuses for George Bush's war"

    Notice the (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) that therefore "Libertarians" supported Bush!
    How, slimy.

  • american socialist||

    Who did you vote for in 2004?

  • Sevo||

    It was not a D or an R.

  • american socialist||

    Let me guess-- it was Michael Peroutka.

  • Sevo||

    Had to search for that one. Nope; you're proving yourself as stupid as you seem.
    Keep it up; if you wear out the shovel, we have plenty more.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, as, just because someone finds mass-murderers and those who support them to be slimy turds does not make them "right wing". It makes them moral agents.

  • Sevo||

    And I'll bet you voted for that war-monger Obama.

  • american socialist||

    Both times. I'm happy with it given my low expectations for the good ol' USA.

  • wadair||

    I find your disdain for America with respect to war, revolution, and death quiet revealing of your ignorance, given the characteristic bloodiness of almost (if not) every socialist/communist regime in history.

    Socialism is a system that forces people to do what the elite, central planners whimsically decide. It has been resisted by intellectuals and other thinking people wherever it has been attempted, even to the point of death. It has never been fully accepted and has always been forced. It is, almost by definition, violent and contentious. Yet you disdain liberal republicanism in its favor.

    Your either a troll, extremely naive, or living in denial.

  • american socialist||

    Tell that bullshit to people in Denmark who seem quite vigorous fir a people living under the thumb of socialism.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 3:25PM|#
    "Tell that bullshit to people in Denmark who seem quite vigorous fir a people living under the thumb of socialism"

    "Why are european countries moving away from socialism?"
    "Because it don't work and you eventually run out of other peoples money."
    https://answers.yahoo.com/question

    "People can feel socially secure in Denmark—at least for now. People don't get rich from welfare but they can live a comfortable life. Practically all people are eligible for one program or another. But the system is unsustainable in the longer run. In the early 1970s only about 300,000 people of working age lived full-time all year on government welfare. Today it is about 900,000. The population size has remained unchanged at around 5 million. In the not too distant future, more people are going to be pensioners and fewer people will be working age. At some point, the trough will be empty."
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....0515/posts

    Answer: Because they're as stupid as you.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 12:17PM|#
    "Both times. I'm happy with it given my low expectations for the good ol' USA."

    And the USA got the low expectations you prefer. And embody.

  • Jorono||

    Decreases in spending? Come on, if you want to be taken seriously, spout something true.

    And if spending is your only proxy, you are also very shallow.

  • american socialist||

    Note to self: "libertarians" in advanced stages of grief over their support of a bullshit war that killed 5000 Americans.

    Denial: I did not write that article in 2003. I did not vote for GWB in 2004.

    Acceptance: I'm really a right-wing hack that should get a show on Fox News and headline it with an ageing banshee who used to be a VJ on MTV when it actually played music.

    I see the last part is happening. That's very healthy. Good fer you!

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.21.14 @ 12:23PM|#
    "Note to self: "libertarians" in advanced stages of grief over their support of a bullshit war that killed 5000 Americans."

    Note to slimy turd; your lies don't sell now any more than they did last time.

  • ||

    Ironically enough, about 80% of the Reason staff joined you in voting for Obama, and needless to say, the Iraq war had about as much editorial support from Reason as the Holocaust. If you ever want to know Reason's editorial stance on an issue, go to Google.com and type in "site:reason.com your query here". It'll save you from looking like an ignorant twat in addition to a retarded twat.

  • Big Chief||

    Cato Institute Event on C-Span on Dec 13, 2001. Bill Niskanen debating against going to war with Iraq with former CIA director James Woolsey. Link here: http://www.cato.org/multimedia.....aq-c-span.

    Cato was out against the war WAY before it became a popular movement. I don't have time to check the Reason archives, but I'm sure they were as well. Let's see your evidence that shows they supported it.

  • Sevo||

    "Some committee members accused of being fawning, starstruck."

    You can't make this stuff up. No one would believe it.

  • John||

    If the White House was so angry, why didn't the President politely decline the award. Obama would have looked quite statesman like if he had politely thanked t hem for the honor but said that he couldn't accept the award out of respect for those who had received it.

    Note what is missing in these accounts; any suggestion Obama himself was angry about it. I am sure Emmanual, one of the few people in the White House at the time with any sense, was pissed off. He knew that his ego maniac moron front man of a President was going to eat this shit up and embarrass the hell out of himself, which is exactly what he did.

  • Jose Chung||

    the White House was angry about the award, which immediately proved controversial.

    Which explains why the President promptly declined it. Oh, wait...

  • Mike G||

    This was a blatant attempt by a foreign power to influence the American president, but fortunately the power was Norway, so it had no effect whatsoever.

  • Tony||

    At the time, not being G.W. Bush was a significant advancement for global peace.

  • Mt low rider||

    Hey...looks like stupid just walked in the door. BOOOOOSSSSHHH.

  • Jorono||

    And if it was, so what?

    And could you still say that today?

  • Game of Thrones fan||

    Tell that to the families of drone strike victims.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|5.21.14 @ 12:43PM|#
    "At the time, not being G.W. Bush was a significant advancement for global peace."

    That "time" lasted until exactly the instant the new war monger took office.
    No wonder they're embarrassed.

  • Paul Spomer||

    It was odd that they gave him the award so early, but then I guess it would've been even more awkward if he turned it down.

  • Unable2Reason||

    They can say what they want about Emanuel complaining but O' still accepted it.

    He was given the award for simply not being George Bush. He turned out to be George Bush on steroids. They should concentrate on creating a method to void the prizes that they give out when things don't turn out. How bout a 'Nobel Shithead's Wall Of Shame'.

  • Eric Bana||

    I have to say I'm surprised people in his administration were pissed off by it. That's a little encouraging.

  • Ann N||

    they were content to silently accept the award and let their lunatic supporters revel in it.

    he could have correctly readjusted his supporters expectations, but chose not to.

    if ppl knew then what they know now (about obama), he would have had zero political capital and would not have been able to pass his legacy: obamacare.

    it might be seen as splitting hairs, but obama has always been very specific in that he adjusts vague faith upwards (before elections/decisions), and adjusts down specific expectations afterwards.

    he claims he will raise the seas before an election, and then days after says obstructionist republicans prevent free ponies for all little girls, and we cant have legal marijuana, and cant outlaw rainy weather.

    he wants your faith(blind), but not your expectations(results).

    the executive branch of the federal govt STILL prosecutes private citizens who sell marijuana, after obama said he would make it a non priority.

    IOW, obama wasn't pissed by nobel peace prize. it was a tool to be silently exploited in the moment, and angrily resented when shown inappropriate by a track record of dronemurdering.

  • ronalk77||

    ///its awesome,,, Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out www.Fox81.com

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