The Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to President Barack Obama in 2009 seemed like a good idea at the time. Geir Lundestad, the former director of the Nobel Institute for 25 years, notes in his new book that the prize committee had expected the honor to strengthen Obama as president, something he believes never happened, USA Today reports.
Lundestad, who sat in on secretive committee meetings but never voted, told the Associated Press, "[i]n hindsight, we could say that the argument of giving Obama a helping hand was only partially correct," he wrote, according to VG,
a Norwegian newspaper.
"Even many of Obama's supporters believed that the prize was a mistake," Lundestad wrote in "Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize."
"In that sense the committee didn't achieve what it had hoped for," he said, noting that Obama received the award just nine months into his presidency in response to his stated goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Lundestad also noted that Obama rarely mentions the prize and when it was awarded to him. He also says the White House asked if the award could be given in absentia.
"His cabinet … asked whether anyone had previously refused to travel to Oslo to receive the prize," Lundestad said, according to USA Today. "In broad strokes, the answer was no."
Many argued that the award was presented to Obama too soon into his presidency. After several media outlets quoted Lundestad as calling the award a "mistake," he called a press conference on Thursday to justify his remarks.
"Several of you have written that I believe the prize to Obama was a mistake, but then you cannot have read the book," Lundestad said. "It says nowhere that it was a mistake to give Obama the Peace Prize."
Annika Pontikis, spokeswoman for the Nobel Foundation, told Reuters
that she "plans to read the book first before making any comment."
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