David Axelrod spoke:
“I’d like to believe that winning the Nobel Peace Prize is not a political liability,” said David Axelrod,
a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “But this isn’t something I gave a
moment of thought to until today. Hopefully people will receive it with
some sense of pride. But I don’t know; it’s uncharted waters.”
Putting aside domestic responses, can holding a Peace Prize make it harder to bring about peace? I believe the answer is yes. The positive scenario is that holding the Prize signals strength and induces other bargainers to jump aboard your winning bandwagon, for fear of being locked out of an eventual agreement. The more negative scenario arises when the Prize holder is expected to pressure Country X, Ruritania. If the Prize holder secretly wishes to favor Ruritania in negotiations, a President without a Prize can to some extent feign or credibly signal weak bargaining power: "I'm sorry, Ruritania just won't budge; you'll have to move closer to their position." It's harder for the Prize holder to send this same signal, since everyone expects him to get Ruritania to budge (if not, the Prize holder also doesn't have any bargaining advantages either). The Prize holder may find it harder to deal with truly intransigient nations; fortunately we don't have many of those in the world right now.
Related arguments are that a Prize can make it harder to practice strategies of "creative ambiguity" or "low expectations."
David Frum suggests the Prize makes it harder for Obama to be hawkish.