It is hard to imagine anything more wrongheaded than last week’s decision by the Nobel Committee to award its Peace Prize to the European Union. Until, that is, one is reminded of the frauds, terrorists, totalitarians and world-class idiots who have won the award over the past 20 years.
The fabulous ignorance necessary to pass over the organization that in reality brought peace to the European continent for the past six decades -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- and to reward instead a soulless, corrupt, bullying, glorified customs union with pretensions to superpower, beggars belief.
The Nobel Prize was once a towering honor, worthy of the highest respect. Just over half a century ago, in 1953, Albert Schweitzer and General George C. Marshall both received it on the same day, while Winston Churchill picked up the prize for literature. But a rot set in with the political correctness of the 1990s. The (usually Labor Party-dominated) Norwegian parliament, the Storting, chooses the Nobel Committee, and in that decade the Peace Prize was won by Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the Guatemalan activist who fabricated her autobiography and supported murderous Communist guerrillas, and by Yasser Arafat.
In the 2000s it went to Jimmy Carter, Mohammed ElBaradei (the International Atomic Energy Agency chairman who consistently underplayed Iranian nuclear ambitions), Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Barack Obama, in the very first year of his presidency. Recognition of genuine achievement has been replaced by the worst kind of genuflection toward liberal icons.
Nothing better represents this degradation of the Nobel Peace Prize than the ludicrous decision to award it to the EU, an organization that has done nothing whatever to bring peace, and is currently spawning riots and mayhem in many of its vassal states.
Ask an Athenian shopkeeper, who during the past two years of civil unrest has had to board up his shop for weeks at a time, whether the EU has brought him peace. Ask the immigrants, who increasingly are threatened by Europe’s resurgent fascist parties, galvanized by the recessions that were caused in part by the EU’s effort to straitjacket every economy in Europe into a single currency, with a single interest rate and exchange rate. Ask the youth of Europe whether they’ve found peace, as the unemployment rates for their age groups rise above 50 percent in Spain, and only slightly less in Italy, Portugal and Greece.
Moreover, the EU probably funds terrorism. Every year the EU gives more than 500 million euros ($647 million) to the Palestinian Authority, with little oversight over how this money is spent. It is very likely that part of the EU funds are siphoned off to terrorists, or that it frees up other money, with which the Palestinian Authority buys arms and ammunition for attacks on Israel.
Recent recipients of the Peace Prize have failed utterly to meet the criteria that were set out at its inception, in 1901, and this year’s choice of the EU is a classic example. Alfred Nobel said in his will that the committee should find “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Elena Bonner, widow of the 1975 Prizewinner Andrei Sakharov, once lamented that, “At one time, the Nobel Peace Prize was the highest moral award of our civilization. But after December 1994, when Arafat became one of the three new laureates, its ethical value was undermined.” Yet almost 20 years after the Nobel Committee started besmirching the Peace Prize in the 1990s, the world still agrees with Henry Kissinger, who has said of it, “There is no comparable honor.”
As early as the 1980s, it became all too clear that there was an unpleasant whiff of anti-Americanism about the prize, or at least against conservative and pro-capitalist Americans. It once went to Republicans such as Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Charles Dawes, Frank Kellogg and Kissinger. But the nominees of Norway’s left-dominated parliament never awarded the Peace Prize to President Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher or Pope John Paul II for their roles in the destruction of Soviet Communism. In 1987, the Nobel Committee privately told the Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, that they were giving him the prize as “a weapon” against Reagan, according to an account by Robert Kagan.
Kissinger was awarded his 1973 Nobel Prize jointly with totalitarian North Vietnam negotiator Le Duc Tho, who turned it down. But while Kissinger was, of course, quite right that there is no comparable honor, there is one that we should take far more seriously, as the thinking person’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom has been awarded to such genuinely deserving people as John Paul II, Irving Kristol, Neil Armstrong, Vaclav Havel, Norman Schwarzkopf, Omar Bradley, Reagan, Paul Johnson, George Schulz, Stephen Hawking, Aung San Suu Kyi, Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Ed Murrow, Mother Teresa, John Howard and Jimmy Doolittle. These people have done more for liberty on our planet than recent Nobel Prize winners have, let alone the EU.
The winner of the Nobel gets a check for more than $1 million. One wonders what the EU will do with this windfall. They might use it to pay for an independent audit of their accounts (it has been well over a decade since the EU’s own auditors signed off on the bloc’s budget). Or maybe they’ll add another room or two to the enormous, luxury, high-rise buildings that their bureaucrats build for themselves in Brussels --vanity projects for whose construction EU taxpayers’ money is no object. Or maybe they should do what they like doing best: simply wasting money to no effect.
One question bothers me about all this, though: If the Norwegians really admire the EU so much, why haven’t they joined it?
(Andrew Roberts is an historian and author and editor of 12 books, including “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.” The opinions expressed are his own.)
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