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The international politics behind Obama's Nobel Peace prize

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Torbjorn Gronning/AP

(Read caption) Chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, holds up a photo of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama at The Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo Friday.

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STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN; and BOSTON -- The surprise decision to award President Barack Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize had much of the world scratching its head on Friday, even among the president's most ardent fans. Less than a year into office, the young president has made lofty promises, committed his administration to diplomacy, and convinced the world that a less belligerent America is in the offing.

But he is also the commander-in-chief for the Afghan and Iraq wars, as well as ongoing lower-scale US military efforts in Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines. Later on Friday, Obama will hold a strategy session with his war cabinet that could lead to a commitment of more combat troops to Afghanistan. A commentator on Britain's Sky News captured the mood well when he said it appeared Obama had won the prize for "not being George Bush."

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