NYTimes: Rescind Peace Prize!

Yes, the NY Times published an article by Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) entitled Taking Back Nobel Prizes!

However, that was from the Sunday Magazine of October 6, three days before the announcement that President Obama had won the 2009 prize! The Times piece was offering suggestions to the Norwegians on the Peace Prize Committee about which earlier winners may be judged ‘egregiously unworthy' in hindsight and therefore might reasonably have their awards rescinded. Cohen specifically mentioned folks like Al Gore...no, just kidding! Cohen cited as examples Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Henry Kissinger! According to him:

The prize should be rescinded in those extreme cases when a past winner has repeatedly acted contrary to the values the prize enshrines...That might mean vacating the 1906 prize to Teddy Roosevelt... celebrated for his bellicosity...Christopher Hitchens's public statements and his book "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice," suggest that he would revoke her 1979 prize. [Others] might wish to see Henry Kissinger...struck from the rolls, a view shared by many, including me.

Cohen then goes on to lay out a path that I believe the Nobel Committee just might have actually already considered on their own if, say, President Obama gives General McChrystal the troops he needs to win in Afghanistan!

No such award need be irreversible. A trophy that is based on a subjective judgment, particularly one that is granted in the heady days following an apparent triumph, could include the stipulation that it is liable to reconsideration when the passage of time provides sufficient distance for dispassionate review.

Cohen did offer this seemingly prescient comment:

I doubt that I am the only one who, on hearing of his selection, had the measured and dignified response: ‘Are they nuts?!'

He was writing of Henry Kissinger's award, though! I don't know how he reacted to the choice of Obama.

Denis Keohane
Yes, the NY Times published an article by Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) entitled Taking Back Nobel Prizes!

However, that was from the Sunday Magazine of October 6, three days before the announcement that President Obama had won the 2009 prize! The Times piece was offering suggestions to the Norwegians on the Peace Prize Committee about which earlier winners may be judged ‘egregiously unworthy' in hindsight and therefore might reasonably have their awards rescinded. Cohen specifically mentioned folks like Al Gore...no, just kidding! Cohen cited as examples Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Henry Kissinger! According to him:

The prize should be rescinded in those extreme cases when a past winner has repeatedly acted contrary to the values the prize enshrines...That might mean vacating the 1906 prize to Teddy Roosevelt... celebrated for his bellicosity...Christopher Hitchens's public statements and his book "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice," suggest that he would revoke her 1979 prize. [Others] might wish to see Henry Kissinger...struck from the rolls, a view shared by many, including me.

Cohen then goes on to lay out a path that I believe the Nobel Committee just might have actually already considered on their own if, say, President Obama gives General McChrystal the troops he needs to win in Afghanistan!

No such award need be irreversible. A trophy that is based on a subjective judgment, particularly one that is granted in the heady days following an apparent triumph, could include the stipulation that it is liable to reconsideration when the passage of time provides sufficient distance for dispassionate review.

Cohen did offer this seemingly prescient comment:

I doubt that I am the only one who, on hearing of his selection, had the measured and dignified response: ‘Are they nuts?!'

He was writing of Henry Kissinger's award, though! I don't know how he reacted to the choice of Obama.

Denis Keohane