The Nobel Peace Prize, while being one of the most esteemed and well-respected awards a person could receive, has long been a controversial one. And with deserving recipients like Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr, as well as not so deserving ones like Woodrow Wilson and war criminal Yassar Arafat, one can well imagine why.
But now, the calls for the Nobel Peace Prize to be abolished have become louder than ever.
The controversy surrounding the of the most famous of the five Nobel prizes is nothing all that new, due to the very nature of the award. Unlike the other awards, given for exceptional work in areas of expertise in Chemistry, Physics, Literature, and Physiology or Medicine, the Peace prize’s value can be a little harder to decipher.
According to the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, inventor, and weapons manufacturer, the prize was to be awarded to an individual or organization who has “done the most or best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
But who can say who has done the “most or best work” to establish peace throughout the entire world?
Well, again, according to Nobel’s will, that task is to be decided by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which includes five members appointed by the Parliament of Norway – so politicians.
Obviously, the prize was created with good intentions, to reward those who have made our world a safer and more peaceful place to live. However, over the years, it has become largely politicized, giving credence and increased notoriety to those who have done little to actually achieve peace.
Take Al Gore, for example, who won the award in 2007 because he made a movie about climate change or Barack Obama, who was 2009’s recipient simply because he won the election for president of the United States. And last year, Norway teenager Greta Thunberg nearly won because she stood up to adults and skipped school.
But this isn’t why the prize has suddenly come under such harsh criticism.
Can you guess why?
That’s right; it’s because Donald Trump has been nominated for it.
Trump was nominated first by Norwegian lawmaker Christian Tybring-Gjedde for his part in the recent peace treaty signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Tybring-Gjedde says that Trump’s withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq counts as “the abolition or reduction of standing armies” that Nobel’s will states as a possible reason for nomination.
And Tybring-Gjedde wasn’t the only person to nominate Trump. Magnus Jacobsson, a Swedish parliamentarian, has also recognized Trump’s peace efforts, calling on his role in the recent Serbian/Kosovo peace deal.
But apparently, none of these efforts matter to the political left, or at least to Graeme Wood of The Atlantic.
Instead, he says that Trump’s nomination is just further proof that the prize and its prestige should be done away with, or at the very least put on hold until the committee has done a complete reevaluation of why they even give the prize in the first place.
According to Woods, the peace prize “has always been subjective,” but recently, “its incoherence has become too great. The honor doesn’t incentivize peace, if one year you give it to (Henry) Kissinger (starter of many conflicts, ender of one), and another you give to Mother Teresa (who never started a war, but who – as Christopher Hitchens liked to point out – used her Nobel lecture to inform the world that the ‘greatest destroyer of world peace’ was abortion.”
He continued by saying that Tybring-Gjedde’s nomination of Trump “suggests that brief conversations with hideous men are a reason to award the prize.” And before this, he asks, “Is it given for peace, or for rumors of peace? Do you deserve a prize for maintaining despots, as longs as the despots are part of a stable network? Is it given for accidentally wrecking a great military – or only if the destruction is intentional? What if you do all the right things, but you are a boor, or an alleged rapist?”
And while Woods might have a point about some of this, that the award should be given on merit and not political bias, I find it interesting that it took Trump getting nominated for him “woke” to the idea. I mean really, as he states the prize has been controversial for a while. So why now, is he just drawing conclusions about it?