A former secretary of the Nobel Prize committee has said that Barack Obama failed to “achieve” what the committee hoped he would, after they awarded him the peace prize in 2009.
In his excerpts of his autobiography Secretary of Peace, which have been seen by the Associated Press, Geri Lundestad writes: “Even many of Obama's supporters thought the prize was a mistake.”
“In that sense the committee did not achieve what it hoped for.”
Mr Lundestad served as a director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute from 1990-2015 and as a secretary to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
He was an influential presence at committee meetings but did not have a vote in the prize recipients.
The choice to award the President of the United States with the prize in 2009 proved controversial, with many commentators questioning what he had done to deserve the award, considering he had been in office for less than a year.
Mr Lundestad said the decision was the most controversial in all his years as director of the institute, which is usually very secretive about its decisions.
At the time, the committee said Mr Obama would receive the prize for his vision for nuclear disarmament and increased international diplomacy. The chairman of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland said: “Only very rarely had a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
Mr Obama responded by saying he was “humbled” and surprised by the award.
Mr Obama was so surprised, according to Mr Lundestad, that he almost didn’t go to Oslo to receive the award, but went after his staff enquired and found out that recipients almost always make the ceremony - unless there are political prohibitions.
The Norwegian historian also reveals how Bono, Bob Geldof and Sting were all previously considered for the award, however “the conclusion was that these artists were better suited to receiving Grammy prizes than Nobel prizes.”
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