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The Nobel Peace Prize
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That this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an organization, the European Union, instead of an individual is not really new (though I thought it was when I first heard the news).  The prize has been awarded 24 times to organizations instead of individuals between 1901 and 2012 despite the fact that is to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to the Nobel Peace Prize criteria.

The oddest thing about this year’s awardee is that it is going to a moribund organization that has had little to do with the actual creation of peace (though the EU does hold plenty of “peace congresses”).  The “prize motivation” as the Nobel Peace Prize Committee calls it, for granting the EU the award this year was stated thusly:  “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

Hardly. I would argue that it is the individuals that make up Europe – more than just the EU – as well as individual governments – especially those in Eastern Europe which threw off the yoke of Communism – that those individuals and governments are the true creators of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.  An unelected and unaccountable elite in a far off capital – Brussels – can hardly be credited with creating a peaceful Europe.  And let’s not forget the role of NATO – an organization I frequently find myself at odds with – for helping to secure that peace.  While the Peace Prize criteria do state that the award should go to those who work for the “abolition or reduction of standing armies” let us not forget that NATO has taken up much of the work of defending Europe and that the American taxpayer pays for much of NATO.  But the criteria are ridiculous anyway – to think that the abolition or reduction of standing armies leads to peace is not only a fantasy but a dangerous one at that.  Armies have always been, are currently, and will always be necessary to secure peace.

And one more point on “peace and reconciliation.”  I have only to point to the fact that the EU allows one of its members – Greece – to hold hostage a nation of two million people – Macedonia – to prove that the EU is not too terribly interested in “peace and reconciliation.”

You may recall that the peace prize was awarded to President Barack Obama in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to the Nobel Committee. Obama had been president for less than a year and he had been nominated in February of 2009, barely a month after taking office (January 20, 2009).  How the Nobel Committee determined that he had taken “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” is something that I will never understand.  Perhaps the Nobel Committee was drunk at the time that it made its decision.  Regardless, President Obama has actually done the opposite of what the Nobel Committee hoped since he was awarded the prize: he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, he has ordered the killing of terrorists by US Air Force drone attacks, he increased troop levels in Afghanistan and he kept Guantanamo Bay open in Cuba, where the US keeps many of its most notorious Islamic terrorists, all actions of which I heartily approve.

Granted, I’ve never been a big fan of the Nobel Peace Prize though I am a fan of Alfred Nobel for something other than the prizes that he did create – dynamite.  That’s right: the man who created the world’s most famous peace prize was also the inventor of one of the most dangerous substances known to the world at the time.  He also became rich off of his new invention.

While no one really knows why Nobel created the prizes that bear his name, some believe its origins lie in a case of confusion.  The story is told that in 1888, Alfred’s brother, Ludvig, died while living in France.  One French newspaper reported on the death, but confused Ludvig with Alfred, its headline stating that “The merchant of death is dead.” The obituary stated that “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”  It is assumed that because of this, he wanted to leave a legacy more favorable to history.  Regardless, the first news about these prizes came from a reading of his last will and testament stating that the bulk of his substantial fortune would go to create the prizes that now bear his name.

The Noble Peace Prize is known throughout the world and is very good at promoting itself.  But it might be a good time for the organizers of the prize to take an inward look at themselves and do a little soul-searching.

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Jason Miko
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