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Some Analysts Warn Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Complicates War Efforts
Some foreign policy analysts say the Nobel prize may complicate his efforts to wind down the war in Iraq, his deliberations on whether to ramp up the war in Afghanistan, and other international issues.
Friday, October 09, 2009

It remains to be seen what impact President Obama's stunning capture of the Nobel Peace Prize, with a citation praising him for promoting diplomacy, will have on foreign policy matters, though some of Obama's critics are warning that it presents a new challenge to his war deliberations and other issues.

In particular, some foreign policy analysts say the prize announced Friday may complicate his efforts to wind down the war in Iraq and his decision on whether to ramp up the war in Afghanistan.

John Bolton, a U.N. ambassador in the Bush administration, told FOX News that the award will give leverage to Obama advisers opposed to sending more troops to Afghanistan at the request of commanders.

"I think those who don't want a massive increase in troops will now be saying, 'But Mr. President, you just won the Nobel Peace Prize, how can you agree to 40,000 more troops on the ground,'" he said.

For others, the award reinforces conservative criticism that Obama's hesitation to wield the threat of greater military force in Afghanistan demonstrates weakness, said John Wobensmith, a senior fellow for international diplomacy at the American Foreign Policy Council and a national security official in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

"I think that when there is weakness, that encourages war and encourages operations that the Iranians are doing," he said, referring to Iran's nuclear program and perceived meddling in Iraq. "I think it will embolden them to do more. It's going to embolden lots of other terrorists."

The Taliban, which is waging a fierce battle with U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of its mission to regain power,immediately condemned the selection of Obama, saying the president had only escalated the war by sending more troops.

"Why are they giving this prize to Obama, who has sent more troops to Afghanistan, who is bombing and killing innocent people?" Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said from an undisclosed location in a telephone interview Friday with the Associated Press.

He accused Obama "of having the blood of the Afghan people on his hands."

Others say Obama simply has yet to produce a record worthy of the prize.

"Barack Obama's campaign may have changed the tone in international diplomacy, and that might have been a good thing," said John Tate, president of the Campaign for Liberty, a conservative group. "However, his actions fail to match his campaign rhetoric."

"He is ramping up Afghanistan, expanding the war in Pakistan and his administration is making plans to bomb Iran," he said in a written statement. "At the same time, he has failed to make major troop withdrawals in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world."

But some analysts don't believe the award will make much difference.

"I don't expect that we'll see any major changes in the negotiations over how to deal with the Afghanistan war," said Kristin Lord, an expert on international diplomacy at the Center for a New American Security, a left-leaning think tank.

She added that difficulties on the ground, not America's reputation, are preventing the U.S. from achieving its solution.

"Domestically, it's not going to help him because people are beginning to form strong opinions about him," she said. "Internationally, it's hard to see how the president could have a higher profile."

The award, she added, is a "validation of his approach" by the Nobel committee, "but I'm not sure we'll see any tangible changes" in his ability to carry out foreign policy.

Aaron David Miller, a former Clinton administration official involved in U.S. peacemaking efforts, told that the award shows "the international community is in love with this man" and is a "collective sigh of relief that George Bush is gone."

But he added that the award, like Obama's failure last week to get the Olympics sent to Chicago, "will have absolutely no impact" on U.S. foreign policy.

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