Foreign Policy

Why The Obama Peace Prize? Maybe to Make Him Feel Beholden


Ryan Sager at True/Slant with an interesting perspective, not necessarily one I buy, on what the Nobel committee might have hoped to accomplish with the Peace Prize to the double War president:

The explanation that makes more sense to me is that it's something closer to the old salesman's free-pen trick on a grand scale. A free pen from, say, a pharmaceutical rep to a doctor seems harmless enough. But it triggers a strong reaction in people: reciprocity. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Social science experiments have consistently shown that giving people thing - even tiny little trinkets - can make them reciprocate in substantial ways. There's a reason this free-pen trick exists, and that's because it works.

President Obama has just received the biggest free pen in the world. I'm not sure what happens to the substantial cash attached to the award, but the prestige is a big free pen in itself. And the intent seems clear enough to me. We, the international community, have bestowed our highest honor upon you. Now, you feel at least a little more inclined to lean in our direction on: global warming, Israel-Palestine, etc.

The Peace Prize body count. Nick Gillespie on why Obama should respectfully decline the honor.