The Corner


Everyone Gets A Nobel

North Korean lead Kim Jong-un (left) greets South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the truce village of Panmunjom, April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool/via Reuters)

No, I don’t think Donald Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize for developments on the Korean Peninsula. He could legitimately be due one if things go the way everyone hopes. But so far almost all of the progress has been rhetorical, diplomatic, and symbolic. That’s not nothing. But it isn’t remotely what people are making it out to be. I’m with Rich Lowry, David French, and Nick Eberstadt on this one.

But that’s not what this post is about. What interests me is how the Nobel chatter illustrates one of the problems with partisanship and precedent. (Let’s leave out the chatter coming from South Korea, which has been somewhat misreported, mistranslated, and misunderstood, I think.)

My friend Guy Benson says, “A stunning foreign policy breakthrough has changed the game on the Korean peninsula.” That’s debatable, but okay. Then he adds:

“There’s already non-frivolous chatter about a Nobel Peace Prize, of which Trump is arguably already more deserving than the basically-symbolic award foolishly bestowed upon his predecessor.”

The link to the “non-frivolous chatter” is a thread of tweets from my new book tour buddy, Ian Bremmer. The thread ends with this if-not-frivolous-then-certainly-playfully-sarcastic tweet:

See what’s going on? Simply because Barack Obama got an undeserved Nobel Peace Prize, Trump should get one because he’s more deserving than Obama was. This headline says it well: “After North Korea triumph Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, not Obama.”

A decade ago we all guffawed over the fact that Obama didn’t meet the minimum plausible standard for receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. Now Obama’s precedent is the minimum standard. This seems a wee bit childish. “No fair! They didn’t do their chores right either, and they got candy! We deserve candy too!” But it’s also typical of the way politics tends to work these days. Because Bush did X, Obama was in his rights to do Y. Trump can do Z because, what about Obama?! Again, I shudder to think what precedents the next Democratic president will exploit.

Still, I sincerely hope that Donald Trump gets a Nobel Peace Prize — if he deserves it. A lot needs to happen before then.

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