WASHINGTON (CNN) – "Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum - when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes."
That's the take of Hillary Clinton's State Department on President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, according to her spokesman, Assistant Secretary PJ Crowley.
Crowley was referring to the incident last December when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during his final visit to Iraq of his presidency.
Muntader Zaidi, who worked for the Iraqi television station Al Baghdadiya, hurled both his shoes at Bush and called him a "dog" during a press conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He narrowly missed the president, who quickly ducked.
The shoe-throwing, considered one of the highest insults in the Middle East, illustrated the deep anger toward the United States over its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Crowley's comments suggested a recognition by the Obama administration that the Nobel Prize was as much an indictment of the Bush administration as it was an effort to praise President Obama's outreach to improve the US image around the world.
Echoing comments by the White House, Crowley said the award was not just an "affirmation" of the Obama administration's foreign policy strategy of engagement, but also on its robust foreign policy agenda, which includes non-proliferation, dealing with Iran and North Korea, and pursuing peace in the Middle East.
"There is an opportunity here," Crowley said. "The tone has changed - but obviously we recognize that, while the tone in the world has changed, the challenges remain. They are very significant."
This "call to action," Crowley said, will fall primarily on the shoulders of Secretary Clinton and the State Department, who will look "to advance the president's agenda and confront the challenges of the 21st century."