A week has passed since President Obama was notified that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize and we have not yet seen the great era of peace for which he was awarded. Indeed, in the past week alone, the world has teetered closer toward the brink of violence.
We will not argue here why Obama is undeserving of the award at this stage of his presidency. Many other pundits have done that (see Rabbi Boteach’s column on this page). We do, however, urge the president to use this new prestige to take decisive action. Obama must move beyond the well-crafted speeches and get his hands dirty. He must use the full weight of his office to exert pressure on warring parties and belligerent nations, whether through sanctions, United Nations resolutions, or force, if all else fails.
Three developments this week cast doubt on the president’s peacemaking ability. Reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah were once again breaking down on Wednesday, with Hamas undecided if it would actually sign an agreement with its rival on Thursday. Without their unification, Mideast peace cannot move forward.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that threats of sanctions against Iran could push the regime into taking a harder stance and therefore could ruin negotiations. Iran, meanwhile, seems more open to having its uranium enriched outside the country but it continues to signal that it will not give up its nuclear ambitions. China and Russia seem more willing to live with a nuclear Iran. Given the country’s record, however, trusting that an Iranian-made nuclear device will not fall into the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas seems like a leap of faith too big to make.
As if to drive home that point, a Hezbollah weapons cache stored in the home of one of its operatives in southern Lebanon exploded earlier this week. Hezbollah activity there is a clear violation of U.N. Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War, and has been virtually ignored by the international community, including the United Nations.
In order for Obama to truly earn his Nobel, he must now take decisive action to end these conflicts instead of just saying please.