Yes, it was probably premature.
Yes, it makes no sense at all for the commander in chief of the world’s largest military to receive the Peace Prize. But as far as that goes the prize jumped the shark a long time ago, and has been defining “peace” overly broadly for decades.
No, you can’t reduce Obama’s accomplishments thus far to just a matter of speechcraft and buzz management.
Back when he was running, I recall one argument for supporting him, best elocuted in an Andrew Sullivan piece in The Atlantic, was that international opinion of the United States would get a boost from his being elected regardless of what he did, simply because of who he was. If we, as a nation, could elect a black man as President it would fly in the face of a lot of assumptions about us, both inside and outside our borders. It would make it harder for those inclined to hate us to hold on to their stereotypes of us.
I think that the Nobel committee jumping the gun somewhat in awarding Obama is a reflection of that dynamic. Americans should take it as a compliment — an affirmation of the hope that our choice of President has given the world. For Obama himself it will be a noble burden: he must now work to fully earn the honor that has been bestowed on him. I wish him well.