World News Brief, Friday December 11

Obama accepts Nobel amid controversy; China attempts to cool its real estate market; North Korea and US agree that Six-Party talks should resume; Iraq reshuffles security forces; France and UK agree on bank reform; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama Accepts Nobel Prize

U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Oslo Thursday to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize amid criticism of his plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. The president responded to critics (Bloomberg) who consider the awarding of the prize to be premature, saying, "The goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award--even one as esteemed as the Nobel Peace Prize. The goal is to advance American interests, make ourselves a continuing force for good in the world--something that we have been for decades now." He said the honoring of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1964 had "a galvanizing effect around the world, but also lifted his stature in the United States in a way that allowed him to be more effective." Aides to Obama said his acceptance speech would address the paradox of accepting the peace prize only nine days after announcing that he would send another thirty thousand American troops. Norwegians are upset (Guardian) over Obama's cancellation of many celebratory festivities, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace, and a music concert. He also turned down lunch with the king of Norway. The Norwegian Nobel committee dismissed the criticism, saying, "Obama has to govern the U.S., and we were told early on that he could not commit to all of [the events]." Analysis According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll (LATimes), nearly one in five Americans believe Obama has accomplished enough to deserve the Nobel prize, down from one in three who believed the president was deserving two months ago. In Der Spiegel, Andrew Curry says Obama has already succeeded in changing the tenor of America's relationship with the world and that German commentators hope he will still earn the prize in the coming years. In the Guardian, Sash Abramsky says the dissent about Obama's award should be a lesson to Nobel committees that awarding sitting presidents can create a hosted of unintended troubles for the recipient. In an interview, CFR's Walter Russell Mead says "there isn't a lot of evidence that having a Nobel Prize helps presidents get their agendas through."

PACIFIC RIM: China's Economic Cooling

The Chinese government stepped up efforts to cool the country's overheated real estate market by eliminating (GlobalTimes) certain tax incentives on home sales and promoting low-income housing.

North Korea: After a three-day visit to North Korea, U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth said North Korea and the United States reached a "common understanding" (Yonhap) on the need to resume six-party talks and implement a deal on the country's denuclearization.

- Iraq reshuffles security forces.
- Pakistan arrests five U.S. men.
- France and UK agree on bank reform.