Group of 3

As the Group of 20 meeting appears headed toward multilateral mediocrity, let’s ask a question to put matters in perspective:

Should President Obama be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this fall?

On the defining issue of our time, the need to lift the world economy, the meetings in Britain might best be called the Group of Three.

Among the nations with the most clout to move the world economy, it is the United States and Britain, in the special relationship that endures, and China, which adopts a mammoth stimulus, that carry the greatest load. They are the Group of Three. Other, smaller nations are doing their part. Other, larger nations are not.

While the Group of Three does the heavy lifting, nations that could do much more, such as Germany, refuse. Institutions that have made the problem worse, such as the hyper-conservative European Central Bank, stand back. Leaders who should know better, such as the discredited government of the Czech Republic, sit on the sidelines, hurling insults.

Obviously, it is premature to mention anyone for the Nobel Prize. However, in an important sense, it is useful.

Having inherited gargantuan messes on multiple fronts, the president has embarked on a long list of Herculean efforts, from leading the way for a global stimulus to seeking a lasting peace in the Middle East.

I am not without criticism. It is inexcusable that so many top Treasury jobs remain unfilled. It is wrong that the president has not yet summoned the greatest minds in the nation to stand at the forefront of addressing grave problems, such as the auto crisis. America still needs a JFK moon-shot program for the fuel-efficient car.

So why even mention the Nobel for the president?

Because he is trying. He is leading. He is battling multiple crises, on multiple fronts, while fighting multiple wars and proposing multiple solutions. He gets no help at home from the “No” party in opposition and not nearly enough help from certain great nations whose people admire him, but whose governments are led by conservatives or gridlocked by unpopularity.

While the president battles recession, he has taken early but important steps to free the nation and the world from the tyranny of oil. While he commands two major wars, he is restoring the rule of law on torture and respect for civil liberties at home. While he prepares for a financial summit, he has moved America to the side of protecting Earth from climate change, with another summit approaching later this year.

In the Middle East, with great credit to our secretary of State, the president is daring to pursue the visionary goal of lasting peace, against great odds, after years of neglect. This hard and honorable effort is greater in this president’s first 60 days than in the previous president’s eight years.

In the 1940s the free world mobilized first to defeat fascism and then to rebuild Europe and Japan. Then the alliance of free nations triumphed over communism while we built lasting foundations of prosperity and hope for our people. Never before in history had a great power acted with such wisdom and generosity of spirit. Never before had free nations joined together with such unity of enlightened self-interest.

Food for thought, as world leaders gather.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.