Who *should* have received the Nobel Peace Prize?
Posted by sanityinjection on October 13, 2009
I resisted the urge to post about this on Friday. Like most people, I was shocked by the announcement that President Obama was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I was even more shocked when my friends over at The Western Experience pointed out that since nominations were due February 1, whoever nominated Obama must have done so less than two weeks after he’d taken office.
In trying to decide what to write about this, I had the following thought: If I post that I think the selection of Obama is ridiculous, surely someone will ask the question: If not Obama, who do I think should have received the prize? I figured I had better have an answer to that question before I posted.
In fact, I have two. The first is Morgan Tsvangirai, the current Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Readers familiar with African events will recall that Zimbabwe has suffered under the dictatorship of the increasingly erratic and ruthless President Robert Mugabe for many years. Tsvangirai was the President of the Movement for Democratic Change which opposed Mugabe. He ran against Mugabe in both 2002 and 2008; both elections saw massive fraud to keep Mugabe in power. Eventually, under international pressure, Mugabe agreed to a power-sharing agreement, but is suspected of having tried to assassinate Tsvangirai less than a month after the latter took office.
As an opposition leader, Tsvangirai condemned massive and widespread human rights violations by Mugabe’s government. In the course of his speeches and work for reforms, he has been repeatedly arrested, beaten, tortured, and survived three assassination attempts. Against this background, and the severe circumstances facing the people of Zimbabwe, no one would have been surprised if an armed revolt had arisen. But Tsvirangai has consistently urged that the country’s problems be resolved by peaceful means, and it was in that spirit that even though he had won the 2008 election, he agreed to share power with the man responsible for his torture and attempted murder. Frankly, Barack Obama may never accomplish anything as impressive in the cause of peace as this.
My second choice for the Nobel Peace Prize would have been the King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I can understand why this would have been a controversial choice, because of the King’s involvement with the 2006 military coup that overthrew an elected government. But the King has a well-documented history over half a century of working to maintain peace and prevent civil strife both within Thailand and with respect to its neighbors. (And the Nobel Committee can hardly claim that it chose Obama to avoid controversy.)
“We simply disagree that he has done nothing,” committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told the AP on Tuesday. “He got the prize for what he has done.”
Jagland singled out Obama’s efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.
“All these things have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension.”
Translation: Obama has accomplished nothing to make the world safer, but he made us hand-wringing Europeans FEEL BETTER!
He said most world leaders were positive about the award and that most of the criticism was coming from the media and from Obama’s political rivals.
Funny, I wasn’t aware that the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize was to curry favor with the world’s heads of state. What an amazing thing. Why don’t we just let the heads of state vote, then, and dispense with the Committee altogether?
Aagot Valle, a left-wing Norwegian politician who joined the Nobel panel this year, also dismissed suggestions that the decision to award Obama was without merit.
“Don’t you think that comments like that patronize Obama? Where do these people come from?”
Translation: If you think Obama’s selection was inappropriate, you are a racist hillbilly. (As if no one ever questioned all the white recipients of the award?)
Anyway, I hope with the above we can now dispense with the nonsense that there was “nobody better to give it to.”