CNN’s Christiane Amanpour lashed out at the widespread criticism of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama on Thursday’s American Morning: “Can I just say, I think it’s overdone, this pushing back against his award. He’s obviously done something very significant, and that is...the United States has now had a new relationship with the rest of the world” [audio clip from the segment available here].
Amanpour and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen appeared just after the beginning of the 7 am Eastern hour, about an hour before the President formally received his Nobel in Oslo. Anchor Kiran Chetry asked the chief international correspondent, “[W]e received some of the embargoed remarks, and he [President Obama] does acknowledge quite soon in this delivery the controversy surrounding it, that perhaps he’s at the beginning and not the end of his labors on the world stage. How do you think that’s being received?”
The Iranian-born journalist immediately launched into her critique: “You know what? Can I just say, I think it’s overdone, this pushing back against his award. He’s obviously done something very significant, and that is, after eight years in which the United States was really held in contempt around the world, the United States has now had a new relationship with the rest of the world. This is what the Nobel Committee has rewarded and has accepted. This is what the polls around the world are showing.”
Amanpour continued with a defense of the President’s Afghan policy, which actually had hawkish overtones:
AMANPOUR: Now, on specific issues of policy, when it comes to peace, it is true that he identified the Middle East peace process as a major goal. Nothing has happened there. There are several more years of his presidency to try to achieve something. But on this notion of Afghanistan, having covered Afghanistan so much, having talked to the people in Afghanistan, having talked to the U.S. commanders, including General McChrystal about it- the notion that he ramped up the war and therefore should not be rewarded for peace is, in my view, wrong, because if he ramps up the war in order to achieve peace, that is a major, major action, and that’s what’s at stake right now. Never has peace been achieved by withdrawing or cutting troops. Never has victory or success been achieved in the history of combat by withdrawing troops. So if they’re going to win this war, they have to ramp it up, and I think people need to understand that, and I think now what has happened is this overcompensation for the fact that he’s won this award, and there’s so much criticism without really looking at what’s at stake here.
Gergen then interjected with his own defense of the President’s reception of the Peace Prize, focusing on how the Nobel Committee had given it for “aspiration.” This prompted a reply from Amanpour, who cited how the Committee had done the same with Al Gore in 2007 for his advocacy of the theory of manmade global warming, and that “[t]here has been no major effect on climate change yet.”
ROBERTS: David Gergen, you look like you’re itching to jump in here.
DAVID GERGEN: (laughs) I agree with you up to a point. I do think the President goes as a representative of the American people, and I think in accepting it with humility, I think that captures the spirit of this country. There’s a widespread feeling in America that this should have been later in his term as president, if it were to come at all. So I think he’s been wise to sort of strike this tone of humility, and I think he genuinely is humbled by it. But beyond that, it’s important for all of us to understand that this award was originally given for achievement. That was what Alfred Nobel’s intention in his will when he gave the money for this. But- and up through the Second World War, it was largely given for achievement. But increasingly since the Second World War, it has been given for aspiration. It has been given, in the sense of the committee hoping that this person or this recipient, this group will go on to achieve great things, to give them- to put them in the spotlight and say we have hope for you achieving great things.
AMANPOUR: Let’s just take, for instance, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. There has been no major effect on climate change yet. That also is aspirational. Let’s take the land mines-
GERGEN: I don’t agree with you. I think we’ve come a long way since then, and I think Al Gore has had a lot to do with it.