Friday, December 11, 2009

Charisma & Obama's Peace Rhetoric

The awarding of President Barack Obama of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is an excellent example of a national phenomenon having international implications. The Nobel committee cited "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"(Gibbs 2009 para 4). Charismatic politicians are masters at crafting messages and changing the mood and optimism of an environment. But, they don't have the ability to create facts from compelling rhetoric. To say that President Obama has transformed international diplomacy is a stretch at minimum and mythological at worst. "His (Obama) critics fault some of those efforts: those who favor a missile shield for Poland or a troop surge in Afghanistan or a harder line on Iran. But even his fans know that none of the dreams have yet come true, and a prize for even dreaming them can feed the illusion that they have" (Gibbs 2009, para 4). The impact of irrational exultation of charismatic politicians can be treasonous to the national interest of a country.

In a Machiavellian sense, it is ineffective to apply solutions inappropriately to a problem that affect the long term domestic and foreign policy of a sovereign nation. Given the contemporary challenges of geopolitics, the Latin dictum is most apt, " Si vis pacem, para bellum" (If you wish peace, prepare for war). In all fairness to President Obama, the media categorized him under the Charismatic leadership Model, although his overall attributes do not warrant inclusion. While President Obama fits Conger's (Bodow, 2002) notion that a charismatic personality has the ability to communicate a compelling vision for the future, that's where the buck stops for him. Charismatic communication is merely a manifestation of the missionary zeal characterized by charismatic personalities. To hone one's communication skills while lacking a deep philosophical infrastructure does not a charismatic personality make.

The upside to President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize is that it sets a global political agenda for pro-Western allies. By labeling President Obama, "The Peaceful President," it’s difficult for rogue states like Iran and North Korea to have strong political standing on the world stage. When the U.S. has to take preemptive measures in the name of peace, it's an easier sell with a "redeemer" as president. When politics, media and constituencies intersect, ancillary institutions enter the fray to be on the "right side of history." Without creating another "Conspiracy Theory," geopolitics is always in play and charismatic politicians serve as instruments for strategic maneuvering. In President Obama's case, the Nobel Peace Prize is an additional act in the perpetual marketing production that has characterized the Obama Administration. It turns preparing for war, if you wish for peace on its head. Now the mantra is, "If you must war, appear peaceful."


Bodow, S. (2002 December 12). Charmed I'm sure. USA Today. para 6. Retrieved on September 19, 2009:

Gibbs, N. (2009 October 9). Obama's Nobel, the last thing he needs. Time magazine online. Retrieved from:

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