Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mohamed "Da Bomb" ElBaradei
wins a prize! (Should we care?)

A peace prize funded by a man who got rich making explosives. Sounds like an idea someone should have nixed early on, like letting the Taliban host a beauty contest. The Nobel Foundation could avoid a considerable amount of controversy by sticking to the sciences and literature. In fact, the peace award kind of sticks out as an ill-conceived afterthought.

The committee has attempted to explain away some of its odd choices of laureates by suggesting that the prize is not given necessarily for achievement but as "encouragement" for those who may someday achieve something in the field of peacemaking. By that reasoning, I'd like them to send over my Nobel Prize for literature now. No sense waiting until the novel is finished, and I could really use the cash.

The list of past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize contains more eyebrow-raising names than can be explained away as errors or flukes. The foundation seems determined to mock real efforts to achieve a peaceful world. By lauding bureaucrats and politicians who actually stand in the way of peace, they impede real progress toward peace. Here are some of the committee's dubious selections from the past century:

Jimmy Carter (2002): His efforts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict amounted to nothing more than self-congratulatory photo opportunities. He also has a perverse affinity for African dictators.

Kofi Annan (2001): Back in Ghana, "Kofi" must be Akan for "crony." If what the world needs most is corruption and obstructionism, then he's your man. Or maybe his cousin. Or his nephew. Or his brother-in-law.

Yassir Arafat (1994): Oh, brother. Where to begin ... Here's a quote from a speech Arafat gave at his daughter's birthday party less than one year after receiving the prize: "The Israelis are mistaken if they think we do not have an alternative to negotiations. By Allah I swear they are wrong. The Palestinian people are prepared to sacrifice the last boy and the last girl so that the Palestinian flag will be flown over the walls, the churches and the mosques of Jerusalem." Peacemaker, indeed. He was also a thief.

F.W. de Klerk (1993): Many people consider this one debatable, though the controversy swirling around de Klerk is so thick and noxious that he should have been passed over, in my opinion. Even his critics admit that he played a crucial role in ending Apartheid in South Africa, but the Nobel committee should have considered the feelings of the families of those murdered by death squads while de Klerk was president. De Klerk's claim before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he knew nothing of the activities of groups like the Vlakplass Unit is patently absurd. Perhaps releasing Mandela and ending Apartheid should earn de Klerk the right not to spend the rest of his life in prison, but a peace prize is too much.

Dalai Lama (1989): The current Dalai Lama is one peaceful dude. He's also wildly popular, rich, and in a cult. Why doesn't John Travolta get a peace prize? Tenzin Gyatso (takes away some of the mystique when we call him by his name) spends his time doing the lecture circuit while the Chinese erase his nation by moving millions of settlers there. The Chinese also say they will handle finding the next Dalai Lama once Gyatso dies, meaning they will locate the child in whose body Gyatso's soul is reincarnated. Gyatso has responded by vowing he will not be reincarnated into anyone in China, or maybe he won't be reincarnated at all. So there. Nya-nya.

Henry Kissinger (1973): This makes Kissinger the first person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize while coordinating the secret and illegal bombing of civilians in Southeast Asia and giving murderous Latin American dictators a boost to power. Brilliant.

Ralph Bunche (1950): Bunche was a member of the Communist fifth column that infiltrated the U.S. government during the Cold War. He worked directly under Alger Hiss.

Frank B. Kellogg (1929): In 1928, Kellogg--then the U.S. Secretary of State--co-authored the Kellogg-Briand pact, which outlawed war. That worked.

Theodore Roosevelt (1906): Roosevelt received the prize for his efforts to make peace between the Russians and the Japanese. What makes his selection odd is that he believed firmly that America should have an imperial role in the world, and he saw militarism as a necessary element of success in that role. He despised Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt's and Wilson's respective philosophies make them practically polar opposites, yet the Nobel Foundation gave them identical prizes. Go figure.

All in all, it's no surprise that the Nobel Foundation decided to give this year's peace prize to Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, which is notable for having prevented exactly nobody from acquiring nuclear weapons technology. During his tenure as head of IAEA, both Pakistan and North Korea have gained nuclear weapons. Iran is poised to do the same. I guess this is one of those prizes they give for "encouragement," because it sure as hell can't be for achievement.


Blogger Fausta said...

Another forgettable Nobel Peacer is Rigoberta MenchĂș, who won the Norgewian Badge of Uselessness in 1992.
More here.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...

This is my blog on this year's Nobel Peace prize winners.

6:57 PM  

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