Nobel Peace Prize Committee Outdoes Itself
Once upon a time getting the Nobel Peace Prize was a big deal. But with the award of the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union, it has become banal. In the race to diminish the prestige of the prize, the committee may have topped its disastrous award of the prize to Barack Obama, for no particular reason.
In the old days, The Nobel Peace Prize recognized great achievement, great strength, inspired leadership and heroism. Of the five original prizes established by Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize had a certain resonance, because Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, and allegedly felt some guilt or dread over his explosives being used in war.
Perhaps because Norway lacked Sweden's strong military tradition, Nobel's will gave the administration of the Peace Prize to Norway, then under Swedish political control. The Norwegian Parliament appoints the 5 member Nobel Committee, and as oil rich Norway has drifted leftward, so has the Nobel Peace Prize. The Parliament usually awards these plum appointments to (surprise!) retired members of that body.
The Prize has lowered itself to the level of all the award-giving organizations media people organize to give each other prizes at the local, state, regional, and national levels, so they can all be award-winning journalists. The Peace Prize Committee is a bunch of retired politicians awarding a prize to other politicians.
The committee turned toward using the prize as a means on encouragement, and ran into controversy. In 1973, the Committee outraged the left with its award to Henry Kissinger, in tandem with Le Duc Tho, for Vietnam negotiations. Le Duc Tho declined to accept on the ground that peace had not been achieved.
The 1994 award to Yasser Arafat in tandem with Yitzak Rabin put the Nobel imprimatur on a ruthless terrorist and looter, but at least could be read as nudging the Palestinians toward renouncing their goal of driving the Jews into the sea (a lot of good it did).
The rationale behind the award to the EU is that it has kept the peace in Europe, so there was no World War III there. This, of course, is nonsense on stilts. Iain Martin writes in the Telegraph:
Daftest of all is the notion that the EU itself has kept the peace. It was the Allies led by the Americans, the Russians and the British who defeated and disarmed the Germans in 1945. The German people then underwent the most extraordinary reckoning, transforming their country into an essentially pacifist society. The EU had very little to do with it. Throughout that period it was Nato, led by the Americans and British, which kept the peace in Western Europe. The American taxpayer picked up most of the resulting tab, and the British paid a significant part of the bill too.
Under this defence umbrella, the federalists who wanted to reconstruct the notion of Carolingian Empire which dominated 9th century Europe, created what we have come to know and love as the EU. Of course there are advantages in what they constructed - the single market and easier travel, making the South of France and Tuscany more accessible. But they also built an appallingly designed single currency, a horlicks of an agricultural policy and rapacious bureaucracy determined to stifle the nation state in the name of utopian, unachievable continent-wide homogeneity. And at every turn those driving it looked for ways to outwit the democratic will.
The elephant in the bathtub right now is the eurozone crisis. So the tacit message behind the prize is, "Hang in there, eurocrats!"