What Peace Did He Achieve?
Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Barack Obama have all been given Nobel Peace Prizes. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher have not.
Since 1901, the Nobel Committee has awarded the annual Prize to an entity, group or individual who works for peace in a significant way. Well, technically there have been 19 times that the Committee felt as if no one deserved the Prize and chose not to name a winner. The last time no winner was named was 1972.
Nancy Reagan must surely be disappointed that her husband helped bring Communism to its knees and yet President Reagan didn’t get the Prize, Mikhail Gorbachev did in 1990. Although maybe there is still hope for Reagan since Dag Hammarskjold won the prize in 1961 after he was dead. And Jimmy Carter was first ignored in 1978 after bringing Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat together to forge a peace deal between Egypt and Israel. Begin and Sadat won that year instead and Carter won a make-up award in 2002. Gore didn’t win as a sitting U.S. Vice President – he also got a make-up win later in 2007. Although Charles Dawes was a sitting U.S. Vice President in 1925 when he won for the Allied Reparation Commission.
Although you don’t have to be Mother Teresa to win one (she won in 1979), Bill Clinton still hasn’t been awarded the Prize and I am sure he must be furious. All that work on the Dayton Peace Accords and handshakes on Middle East peace at Camp David weren’t enough to get President Clinton the nod. Although other sitting Presidents have won – Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.
While some people talk about Obama’s win as an award for the HOPE of peace, last week’s escalation of war in Afghanistan with the announcement of an additional 30,000 American troops certainly is awkward timing.
And if the criteria to win the Prize is about HOPE, then why not John Danforth in 2004 for bringing the Northern and Southern Sudanese leaders together to sign an agreement in front of the United Nations Security Council whom he brought to Kenya, Africa in a special session? Or George Mitchell could have been this year’s make-up win, like Carter was, for the plethora of issues he has worked on or is currently working on. At least HOPING for Mitchell is based on past performances.
The United Nations seems to win without the Committee looking at its performance record. And UN Secretary-Generals are a shoe-in to win the Prize just by getting their title. Kofi won in 2001, the UN peacekeepers in 1988, UNHCR in 1981. And although UNICEF hasn’t won since 1965, they are currently led by a Republican so we all understand why they aren’t currently eligible.
The Nobel Prize Committee has damaged its credibility by giving the 2009 Prize to Barack Obama. It should have chosen a make-up award from past credible peace makers or it could have made this the 20th time it hasn’t named a winner.