The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to US president Barack Obama in 2009 failed to live up to expectations, says the former secretary of its committee.
Geir Lundestad has written in his memoir that the committee had expected the prize to boost Obama, but was instead fiercely criticised in the US, where people argued that the president had not been in his position long enough to have had an impact worthy of the award.
“Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake,” Lundestad wrote. “In that sense, the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.”
Lundestad, who stepped down last year after 25 years as the non-voting secretary of the secretive committee, said that Obama was startled by the award and that his staff investigated whether other winners had skipped the prize ceremony in Oslo.
“In the White House, they quickly realised that they needed to travel to Oslo,” said Lundestad.
He added that he did not disagree with awarding Obama, but the committee “thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect”.
It is rare for Nobel officials to discuss the proceedings of the secretive committee or to publicly criticise each other.
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