Lech Walesa, the 1983 Nobel peace prize winner and Poland’s president from 1990 to 1995, told reporters in Warsaw:
“Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast — he hasn’t had the time to do anything yet. For the time being Obama’s just making proposals. But sometimes the Nobel Committee awards the prize to encourage responsible action. Let’s give Obama a chance.”
Desmond Tutu, retired Anglican archbishop from South Africa who won the peace prize in 1984:
“It’s an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution toward making our world a safer place for all. It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama’s message of hope.”
Shimon Peres, Israeli president, who won the Nobel peace prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in 1994 following the Oslo Accords, sent Barack Obama this message Friday:
“Very few leaders if any at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such a profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope, with intellectual determination, and a feeling that there is a lord in heaven and believers on earth. Under your leadership, peace became a real and original agenda. And from Jerusalem, I am sure all the bells of engagement and understanding will ring again. You gave us a license to dream and act in a noble direction.”
Andrew Sullivan, former New Republic editor, U.S. political blogger since 2000:
"There are two obvious points: this [award] is premature and this is thoroughly deserved.
"Both are right. I don't think Americans fully absorbed the depths to which this country's reputation had sunk under the Cheney era. That's understandable. And so they also haven't fully absorbed the turn-around in the world's view of America that Obama and the American people have accomplished. Of course, this has yet to bear real fruit. But you can begin to see how it could; and I hope more see both the peaceful intentions and the steely resolve of this man to persevere.
"This president has done a huge amount to bring race relations in this country to a different place, which is why the far right has become so vicious in attacking him and lying about him. They know he threatens their politics of division and rule. He has also directly addressed the Muslim world, telling some hard truths, and played a small role in evoking a similar movement of hope and change in Iran, and finally told the Israelis to stop cutting their nose off to spite their face."
Josh Marshall, editor of the liberal Talking Points Memo:
"This is an odd award. You'd expect it to come later in Obama's presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the 'hyper-power' as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems a meagre accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it's a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was 'normal history' rather than a dark aberration."
Robert Reich, liberal economist and Clinton administration labour secretary:
"I'd rather Obama had won it after Congress agreed to substantial cuts in greenhouse gases comparable to what Europe is proposing, after he brought Palestinians and Israelis together to accept a two-state solution, after he got the United States out of Afghanistan and reduced the nuclear arms threat between Pakistan and India, or after he was well on the way to eliminating the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons. Any one of these would have been worthy of global praise. Perhaps the Nobel committee can give him half the prize now and withhold the other half until he accomplishes one or more of these crucial missions."
NYT editorial (Sat.):
"Countering the ill will Mr. Bush created around the world is one of Mr. Obama's great achievements in less than nine months in office. Mr. Obama's willingness to respect and work with other nations is another. Mr. Obama has bolstered this country's global standing by renouncing torture, this time with credibility; by pledging to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; by rejoining the effort to combat climate change and to rid the world of nuclear weapons; by recommitting himself to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and by offering to engage Iran while also insisting that it abandon its nuclear ambitions...Americans elected Mr. Obama because they wanted him to restore American values and leadership - and because they believed he could. The Nobel Prize, and the broad endorsement that followed, shows how many people around the world want the same thing."
(I'd encourage you to click on the Obama image above. It's an especially ambitious example of photo- montage art.)