Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Ignoble Nobel Peace Prize

One searches in vain through the whole list of Nobel Peace Prize winners from 1901 to the present for a single laureate whose work measurably advanced the cause of peace. The term peace itself, as it is employed by the Nobel Committee, on the surface is wishful and ethereal. The Peace Prize has, as a rule, recognized peace efforts which have unfailingly come to naught. Why? The “peace” pined for is essentially a Kantian concept. It is disconnected from reality. Work for peace, urges the Committee, even if your efforts are spoiled by war and conflict. Peace is good for its own sake. Work for peace as though you wished it to become a maxim, a moral rule.

The “peace” sought after and rewarded by the Nobel Committee is an unconditional peace that admits no legitimate grounds for war or conflict -- nor any rational grounds for peace or war. Alfred Nobel set the original terms for the Peace Prize in 1895 when he said that it should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” In 1895, Nobel might have had a different idea of a “fraternity between nations,” which certainly could not have included the conquest or subjugation of one nation by another. Still, it is an altruistic statement of pacifism.

The Nobel Peace Prize discards the concept of the initiation of force by one country against another -- or by one individual against another -- as a criterion for evaluation, and substitutes an inverted moral judgment. The wishes of the initiator of force should be treated just as legitimate as the wishes of his victim. If the victim resists, war or conflict result. That is bad. Violence ensues. Ergo, the victim must compromise and cede some or all of the initiator’s wishes, if there is to be any “peace.”

Thus, for example, the continuing pressure on Israel to sacrifice its existence to the likes of Yassir Arafat, Hamas and other killers and predators. Or the pressure on the U.S. to not defend itself against its attackers, or to sign the Kyoto Treaty that would destroy what is left of its industrial base.

It is a premise shared by the Nobel Committee, and by most of the laureates, benign, disreputable, and indifferent alike. Thus the Prize’s futility. It is, appropriately, a Kantian trophy of no consequence, a blue ribbon for good intentions. Thorbjoern Jagland, former Norwegian prime minister who chaired the five-member selection committee (elected to the committee by the Norwegian parliament), defended the committee’s choice against charges that Obama had accomplished nothing to deserve the award.

“We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what [Obama] has done in the previous year…We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”

Jagland also explained away the fact that Obama was nominated for the prize about two weeks into his presidency, before he had a chance to move on any item on his agenda.

"Some people say — and I understand it — 'Isn't it premature? Too early?' Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now," Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told the AP. "It is now that we have the opportunity to respond — all of us."

Jagland said the committee whittled down a record pool of 205 nominations and had "several candidates until the last minute," but it became more obvious that "we couldn't get around these deep changes that are taking place" under Obama.

Those promised “deep changes” -- meaning, among other things, the virtual regimentation of the American economy -- are what moved Jagland and his colleagues to nominate Obama based solely on his campaign rhetoric, before Obama had a chance to routinely retreat to the Rose Garden to enjoy a Marlboro. In short, they awarded him the Peace Prize before he had won the election. That’s the Chicago way: pretend for legal reasons to solicit open bids for a government contract, while having already chosen who’s going to get it.

A gold medallion and a sack of cash will recognize the unrealized "efforts" of an American president, Barack Obama, who, to date, has failed to keep any of his socialist promises to transform America into a European collectivist knock-off -- though he has helped to lay the foundation of totalitarianism here. In tune with Obama’s continuing campaign slogan, the Nobel committee awarded Obama the prize in the “hope” that he will indeed "change" the U.S. into something with which it and its fellow anti-American European manqués would be more comfortable: a whipped giant, chained to servitude and sacrifice for the sake of the global poor, the environment, “social justice,” and other “global challenges.”

The reaction to the announcement of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win has been, to say the least, “polarized.” Daniel Pipes notes that “the absurdity of the prize decision will hurt Obama politically in the United States, contrasting his role as international celebrity with his record devoid of accomplishments.” The Taliban and other Islamic gangs and spokesmen also made the same observation, demanding, “Show us the money!” Media Matters, the left-wing mouthpiece of liberals and Democrats, responded immediately to any and all criticism of Obama’s win in a posting, “Still rooting against America: Right-wing media use Nobel Prize announcement as excuse to attack Obama,” and included links to several “right-wingers’” statements about the Nobel decision. That no one should need an “excuse” to attack Obama is beyond the grasp of these collectivists. He has provided Americans with numerous reasons, not including his three dozen or so “czars.”

Bloomberg News also provided links to reactions to the announcement, some of the statements indiscriminately witless with delight, others dour and disappointed. “It sets the seal on America’s return to the heart of all the world’s peoples,” French President Nicholas Sarkozy wrote to Obama. Those questioning whether he deserved the prize included Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip. “There’s a lot more that Obama needs to achieve for peace and for the Palestinian people in order to receive this award,” Barhoum said in a telephone interview.

Iran also sputtered raspberries.

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, media aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP: "We hope that this gives (Obama) the incentive to walk in the path of bringing justice to the world order…We are not upset and we hope that by receiving this prize he will start taking practical steps to remove injustice in the world."

Raising his voice to be heard over this noisy tug-of-war between Pecksniffian mental astaticism and Islamic nose-wrinkling Obama, ever ready to comment on anything, expressed surprise at winning the Peace Prize. However,

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

Translation: Why didn’t Saul Alinsky win the Peace Prize? He transformed me! Besides, I really don’t know who else has won it, except maybe Al Gore, and that Southern cracker, Jimmy Carter. I looked up the list of past winners, and can’t even pronounce half their names.

True to the Nobel Committee’s “party line” and explanations of why it awarded the Prize to a non-achiever, Obama noted:

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This is true. All those “challenges” require the employment of force to effect the changes to bring the U.S. more into line with a collectivized and increasingly barbaric world.

This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

Such faux humility sounds more like an Oscar speech than an acknowledgement; one keeps imagining him clutching a statuette, with his eyes glazing over to keep back the tears.

But, no, thank you, Mr. President. You keep it. By the terms of the Nobel Committee, you earned it. To your everlasting ignominy.


pomponazzi said...

The reason that the award was conferred upon him is that the pacifist-liberal-leftist nexus by doing so would force him to adopt Peaceful (read pacific) means to "end" the conflict.Obama would then be forced to square his pacifistic policies and the imperatives of victory, which he won't succeed in doing. And since he loves to play to the collectivist peacenik gallery, you can imagine which policy would emerge as the victor.

Adam Reed said...

"One searches in vain through the whole list of Nobel Peace Prize winners from 1901 to the present for a single laureate whose work measurably advanced the cause of peace."

"In vain" is a bit of hyperbole.

Norman Borlaug did make a great contribution to world peace. In a perfect world he would have shared the prize with Monsanto, but still....

Yitshak Rabin was a great peace maker, not by his phony deal with Arafat, but much earlier, by his brilliant leadership in the 6-day war. Too bad his victory was erased by Israel's failure to implement an American-style occupation in the conquered territories.

There may be more. I haven't gone through the list in any detail. Of course, the exceptions could be a case of a stopped clock being right once a day.

Ed Cline said...

Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. (And Rabin wasn't awarded the Prize for preserving Israel -- perhaps he might have been had he betrayed Israel -- that's how corrupted the Prize selection committee has become.)

Yes, there are "stopped clocks" in the list -- but that was one of my points: the concept of peace for its own sake has been and remains ethereal and Kantian. Where is the permanance of such efforts? There were a few "pacifists" who criticized the Nazis and Communists and were recognized by the Nobel commitee, and who were subsequently persecuted. Borlaug's "Green Revolution" hasn't stopped non-starving Africans from butchering each other or Hindus and Muslims murdering each other in India and Pakistan.

I think the Nobel Peace Prize ought to be abolished or suspended until the Foundation has a reality check. "Peace" -- real, life-affirming peace -- is simply a consequence of men submitting to a rational code of conduct among themselves. Candidates? The signers of the Treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain, which, to my knowledge, is the longest standing peace treaty in history. There's an instance of permanance.

Tim C said...

Victor Davis Hanson doesn't write from a philosophical perspective (and I certainly am not endorsing his philosophy, which is often implied and occasionally explicitly mentioned*), but this column does have some interesting background on Norway's situation (mainly the first half of the column; where it goes is questionable and not the focus of this comment):

"Norway is, in other words, the Hollywood nation. Imagine it is as the son or daughter of a movie star, one who grew up in Malibu, and feels so terribly about it that he lectures the U.S. about everything from global warming to George Bush’s assorted sins — confident that he will never have to work at Ace Hardware, and never have to live near South Central LA."

(*Ironically, here he implicitly attacks the ethics of altruism and their results, while explicitly endorsing same elsewhere, often in support of war efforts etc.)

Bruce V. Bracken said...

I just heard on Rush Limbaugh that the majority of the Nobel panelists decided at first to not vote for Obama, but Thorbjörn Jagland had strong-armed them into changing their minds. So much for seeking peace.

Anonymous said...

Bruce reported: "I just heard on Rush Limbaugh that the majority of the Nobel panelists decided at first to not vote for Obama, but Thorbjörn Jagland had strong-armed them into changing their minds. So much for seeking peace."

If the other four members of the panel had had any sense of morality or even of personal integrity, they would have quit the panel. But then who would they have voted for instead? Putin, who brought "peace" to Georgia? Hugo Chavez, for bringing "peace" to the Venezuelan airwaves and the press? Ed