Peace Is the Word
And the prize.


LOPEZ: Did you read through all of the speeches? Are there any we could all afford to reread right about now?

NORDLINGER: I read all the Nobel lectures, acceptance speeches, “presentation speeches,” banquet toasts — everything. They are all worth reading, absolutely. I tell you something I singled out — indeed, linked to — recently: George C. Marshall’s Nobel lecture, 1953. It is the Nobel lecture least like a Nobel lecture. He explains why demilitarization and disarmament are disastrous for free countries.

After every conflict, we “draw down.” And we pay for it dearly — too often with the blood of our people.

LOPEZ: You’ve written millions of words over the years, but this is your first book. Did you enjoy the experience? Do you recommend it? 

NORDLINGER: True, this is my first book-book, but I had a collection back in ‘07 (here!). I did enjoy the experience, yes, and recommend it. But how sweet it must be to be able to work on a book full-time — to write a book without holding down another job or other jobs. To have the writing of the book be your job.

Hell, I could knock out one every few months, Joyce Carol Oates–style! (I sound like I’m complaining. I shouldn’t complain. I love journalism, and the related stuff I do.)

LOPEZ: You call out the Nobel Committee for “moral equivalence” during the Cold War. Can such an institution have moral authority?

NORDLINGER: Hmmm — good question. I would say the committee’s authority was badly diminished during that period. And others. Now that you mention it, this is, in part, what my book is about.

LOPEZ: You note Mother Teresa’s “most unusual Nobel lecture.” She said, “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing — direct murder by the mother herself.” You add that “obviously, [the lecture] did not sit well with many.” Couldn’t the committee have anticipated she would give such a talk? Do you have a favorite disapproving review?

NORDLINGER: Yes, the committee could have anticipated it. Whether they did, I’m not sure. A favorite disapproving review? I can’t think of one in particular, where Mother Teresa is concerned. But let me cite a headline in Life magazine, when the Nobel Committee gave the peace prize to Linus Pauling, for his anti-nuclear activism. This was in 1963. Life said, “A Weird Insult from Norway.”

LOPEZ: Any predictions for this year’s peace prize? Who deserves it in your mind?

NORDLINGER: I’m afraid I have no predictions for this year’s prize. John McLaughlin would scold me! Who deserves it? For more than 60 years, the committee passed over Chinese freedom figures. Finally, in 2010, they honored one. Would they ever honor a Cuban freedom figure? A dissident, a prisoner of conscience — Oscar Biscet, maybe? I doubt it. I would sooner expect to see the committee in Che Guevara T-shirts.

Armando Valladares, the great ex-political prisoner sometimes called “the Cuban Solzhenitsyn,” told me, “If the Cuban dictatorship were right-wing instead of left-wing, we would have won two or three Nobel prizes already.” I believe it.

Of course, if the Cuban dictatorship were right-wing instead of left-wing, the world would have demanded its downfall decades ago. 

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.