The Nobel panel that gave the peace prize to President Obama is strongly defending its choice amid widespread criticism. "We simply disagree that he has done nothing," said chairman Thorbjoern Jagland. Another of the five panelists said of critics: "Where do these people come from?" The four who returned calls to AP said they expected the decision to generate both surprise and criticism.
"He got the prize for what he has done," Jagland said, singling out Obama's efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe. "All these things have contributed to—I wouldn't say a safer world—but a world with less tension." That Obama took office a mere two weeks before the nomination deadline didn't seem to be a factor. Of the criticism that Obama didn't deserve it, a panelist said: "Don't you think that comments like that patronize Obama?"