For about sixty years in the 19th century, after the last Napoleonic War, peace reigned among the civilized nations of Europe and North America, chiefly because most of these countries had governments limited in their power to abrogate individual rights and which nominally fostered free trade. The harbinger of statism and of things to come in the twentieth century was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, when Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who established a comprehensive, universal welfare state in Germany, maneuvered France into a diplomatic impasse over a possible alliance of Spain and Prussia against France, and then handily defeated the French army at Sedan.
Emperor Napoleon the Third (Victor Hugo's "Napoleon the Little") was deposed by his countrymen, while Germany annexed Alsace and part of Lorraine and occupied France until an indemnity was paid. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine remained a point of conflict from 1871 to the time of Hitler's blitzkrieg aggressions. Under Bismarck's leadership, all the German states, until then a loose confederation, were consolidated under one government and one emperor, William the First of Prussia. From that point on Germany was governed by Prussian militaristic and imperialistic policies up through the end of World War Two.
At the same time, "peace" became an obsession of diplomats and social activists. As a desired relationship between nations, they viewed it as an ideal state of affairs regardless of cause or consequence, without any thought to the political nature of the governments that were expected to observe the peace.
On the other hand, dictators have terms of peace. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and his Islamic imperialist cohorts promise "peace" on earth once a global caliphate is established, by force if necessary. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and even Napoleon promised "peace" under their ideologies once other nations had been conquered or forced to submit to their hegemony.
But the exigencies of peace have been ignored by both aggressors and pacifists. Aggressors believe that "peace" can be achieved by force; pacifists believe that it can be achieved by compromise. Both force and compromise are antipodes of reason, which men need to consistently employ as individuals in nature and in their relationships with one another. And because reason has rarely played a role in the conflicts between nations, the record of peace movements has been largely one of repeated failure. In fact, most peace movements and diplomatic strategies to prevent war have almost consistently caused or led to war. Efforts by diplomats and pacifists, who eschew violence, to persuade those who live by and for force to refrain from coercion, only encouraged the use of force by those unconcerned with peace.
Ayn Rand observed in her essay "The Roots of War," that:
"[T]hese same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from welfare statism to socialism to fascism to communism. This means that they are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force against armed adversaries, but not against the disarmed." (From Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)It is interesting to note that as statism and collectivism grew in the West in the 20th century, peace movements grew shriller and less rational, to the advantage of the blatantly irrational. And the efforts of pacifists have been fundamentally to reconcile either the rational with the irrational, or the irrational with the irrational, with no thought devoted to the necessary preconditions of peace. No one has thought to ask: Why haven't the U.S. and Canada gone to war? Or the U.S. and Britain? Or the U.S. and Mexico (the Mexican-American War of the 1840's was caused by a Mexican dictator's aggression). For example, historically, of all the peace treaties ever signed by former combatants, the oldest still in effect is between the U.S. and Britain, implemented in 1815 at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.
The shortest-lived treaties have been those signed between nominally "liberal" nations and dictatorships, such as the Neville Chamberlain and Hitler "peace in our time" paper, and between dictatorships, such as the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.
In its long history of awarding Peace Prizes, the Nobel committee has demonstrated a penchant for picking failures, effectively giving recipients a mere "E" for effort. Let's look at the record.
In 2005, the Prize was awarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency "for its efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes...." With North Korea having exploded a nuclear device this week, and Iran determined to enrich uranium to produce its own weapons to use against the West, the failure of the Agency to prevent the spread of nuclear technology is obvious.
In 2002, the Prize was given to former president Jimmy Carter "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts...." Obviously, he has never found those solutions, his effort frustrated by his refusal to distinguish between freedom and tyranny.
In 1994, the Prize was awarded jointly to Shimon Perez and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and terrorist chief Yasir Arafat "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East." Yet, the Middle East is still in turmoil, as Israel struggles to remain in existence, while the Arab campaign to extinguish it has never abated.
In 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of Communist Vietnam received the Prize for having negotiated a peace and the defeat of the U.S.
In 1960, Albert John Lutuli, president of the African National Congress, the political arm of black terrorists, received the Peace Prize. Nelson Mandela, also a leader of the ANC, received it in 1993.
Austen Chamberlain, British foreign secretary and half-brother of Neville, received the Prize in 1925 for having negotiated the Locarno Treaty, which established Germany's borders with France and Belgium. These "inviolable" borders later meant nothing to Hitler. Chamberlain shared that Prize with Charles Dawes, vice president of the U.S. and chairman of the Allied Reparation Commission, who drew up a schedule for defeated Germany to pay for its aggression during World War One. It was a curious arrangement, with the Allies loaning Germany the means to make the payments, the U.S. chipping in $110,000,000. The Dawes Plan and its successor, the Young Plan, which reduced the German debt, were cancelled in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor. One of his political platforms was very popular with the German electorate: the alleged injustice of reparations and the Treaty of Versailles.
Throughout its over one hundred year history, the Nobel Peace Prize has rarely been awarded to a success. And there have been virtually no successful "peace initiatives" because the initiators discard, ignore, or are oblivious to the political requirements to attain a lasting peace. It is on record that nations which have a nominal respect for individual rights do not invade or seek to conquer each other. The histories of North America and post-World War Two Europe attest to that fact. But this fact is lost on diplomats and peace activists.
Observe the fancy, verbose evasions our government emits when faced with the fact that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons to with which to destroy Israel, rule the Mideast, and threaten the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. has surrendered its right to self-defense to the tut-tutting of the "international community." It has lost the moral confidence of the rightness of its own existence. Opposing it is the moral intransigence of Islamic totalitarianism, which means to conquer the world. Instead of destroying Iran's nuclear weapons facilities and its regime, the U.S. and the West evade the moral issue with diplomacy and bribery, which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismisses with the same contemptuous flair as his poster boy, Hitler, dismissed treaties and pacts.
Observe our pathetic response is to North Korea's nuclear test. Instead of destroying North Korea's ability to threaten its neighbors and even the U.S. - and destroyed it years ago -- regardless of the "collateral damage" of civilian casualties, we seek to negotiate, cajole, and promise to shake our fist if Kim Jung Il doesn't listen. Now we are talking about "sanctions." Have our politicians forgotten that sanctions were imposed on Iraq, and that these pitiful, ineffectual actions were compromised by the "humanitarian" oil-for-food program, corruptly administered sub rosa by Kofi Annan, the outgoing secretary general, who accepted a Peace Prize in 2001 on behalf of the U.N.?
Apparently, they have. Tony Snow, President Bush's press secretary, simply reported the administration's displeasure at North Korea's "provocative defiance of the will of the international community."
Like the Medal of Freedom, like the Nobel Laureate in Literature, the Nobel Peace Prize, absent all rational criteria for measuring moral worth, is a nullity and a farce.