Ok, my two cents.
Let's start with a few facts:
- The United States spends more on the military than the next 25 countries combined. It spends somewhere on the order of more than half of all money spent in the world on military affairs.
- The United States has armed personnel in more countries in the world than any other country, by far.
- The United States has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and is the only country to ever use it. It has the largest, most sophisticated missile delivery system for that arsenal and there is no place on earth we cannot deliver multiple warheads to within a very short amount of time.
- The United States has been actively engaged in combat somewhere in the world for much of the lifetimes of most people alive.
- Since 2003 (and perhaps before), major polls taken around the world have consistently shown that most people in the world think the United States is the most dangerous country in the world, the greatest threat to peace, and so on.
- Last but not least, the Bush Administration made it crystal clear that the United States' mission in the world was to use its status as the remaining superpower to impose its will on the rest of th world. Whether you thought that was good or bad, you can't do much more than quibble with that description on the facts.
So, it seems pretty clear that when the Nobel Committee cites Obama for his committment to multilateralism and the United Nations, they are expressing this thought:
We are really, really glad that the leader of the biggest, scariest country on Earth has decided to put the gun back in the holster and try to work with the rest of us to do some good. That alone is a major contribution to world peace, no matter how the rest turns out.
And frankly, I agree. Does anyone think that Ang San Sui Chi (pardon if I butchered that) will affect the world more than Obama has by doing a 180 on the U.S.'s recent policies? And I think she's a hero, btw.
We are not seen as the fair haired boys of the world anymore. We have a rep as bullies (OK, bullies who sometimes side with the good guys) and the rest of the kids are really hoping we stop pushing them around. Anyone who has friends abroad knows that in many countries around the world, most especially in our traditional friends (like the UK), people thought the entire country was under the spell of insane people and demons during the Bush years. What you just heard from the Nobel Committe was Europe and a lot of other people letting their breath out in relief. That's what this was about, IMO.