The Corner

The Newest Nobel Peace Laureate

Concerning the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, a few observations:

1) The committee begins its statement this way: “In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France.” That is certainly true. The committee also gave such awards before the First War.

2) That the EU has helped keep the peace on a continent infamous for war is not a stupid contention. It is debatable, of course, but not stupid. Many, many wise people have believed it — Walter Laqueur, for one. I was reading him on the subject just recently.

3) The committee likes to intervene in public affairs — for the better, they think. They have honored the EU now because the EU is under threat. It is in danger of breaking up. The committee is throwing the EU a lifeline. They’re trying to complicate the efforts of those who oppose the union.

If you’re one of those people — and if you are, who can blame you! — you’re now opposing a Nobel peace laureate. The recipient of humanity’s highest honor (according to some — according to many, actually). You see how it works . . .

4) The committee doesn’t mind lost causes. For example, they honored the League of Nations right to the bitter end — knowing it was a lost cause. The last prize they gave before the war was to the Nansen refugee office, a branch of the League.

5) There is a parochial element to the 2012 prize, if I may put it that way: Norway is not a member of the EU (and the peace prize is a Norwegian prize, remember). Norway is one of the relatively few European countries not to belong to the EU. The public there has never wanted it. (There have been referenda.) But a lot of elites want it — quite possibly including the five members of the Nobel committee.

6) The committee has always liked to honor international organizations, in particular the U.N., of course (and before it, the League, and before that, the Inter-Parliamentary Union). The 2012 prize conforms to a pattern.

7) Throughout its history, the Norwegian committee has happily ignored Alfred Nobel’s will — the terms he set for his peace prize. The leading such term is “fraternity between nations.” Now and then, the committee actually follows the will. And when they do, they make sure to announce it!

I was sort of tickled when I read this, in today’s statement: “The work of the EU represents ‘fraternity between nations’, and amounts to a form of the ‘peace congresses’ to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.”

Of course, some Greeks and others may not think that the EU and “fraternity” go together just now . . .

8) Some interviewers have asked me whom I would like to see get the prize. I usually say, “A Cuban democracy figure or group — maybe Oscar Biscet, or the Ladies in White.” Cold day in hell, I guess (though you never know for sure — see the 2010 prize, to a Chinese prisoner of conscience).

9) There is much more to say about the 2012 award. I have made just a few points. Readers interested in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize — a fascinating subject, I found — are invited to consult my book, Peace, They Say. (Pardon the plug.) (As usual.)

Most Popular

Sports

It’s Time for Colin Kaepernick to Move On

Colin Kaepernick. Remember him? Below-average quarterback. Above-average poseur. Not “activist,” not really. Activists actually say stuff. Kaepernick almost never says anything. He’s like the Queen or most popes — you have to read the deep-background musings of supposed members of his inner circle to get ... Read More
U.S.

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
Elections

Trump and the Black Vote

"Donald Trump is a racist, white supremacist, white nationalist. So are his supporters." Some version of that refrain is heard almost hourly somewhere in mainstream media. Democratic politicians seem to proclaim it more often than that. Listening only to the Left, you'd conclude that more than half a ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More
U.S.

The Age of Miscalculation

On August 7, 1998, more than 200 people were killed in terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. Americans learned three names most of them never had heard before: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda. On August 20, 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered a ... Read More