Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize committee has surpassed itself

Having complained two years ago when the prize was given to Al Gore, I could hardly let this year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama pass without comment. When the deadline for nominations came around (February 1), Mr. Obama had been in office for two weeks. By then, of course, he hadn’t done a whole lot for world peace. Subsequently he hasn’t done a whole lot more.

In 2007 I said that ‘The judges appear, for some reason, to have been motivated to make some kind of political point beyond their remit’. This time there’s no ‘appears’ about it. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the award is justified because

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.

In other words, Obama gets the award for not being George W. Bush. OK, so we can be clear, the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are:
Thorbjørn Jagland
Kaci Kullmann Five
Sissel Marie Rønbeck
Inger-Marie Ytterhorn
Ågot Valle

I make the list as a name-and-shame exercise because, frankly, Europeans like this are an embarrassment to the continent (and yes, I consider myself a European). The tireless Bush-baiting was tedious enough while Dubya was still American President; the fact that it’s continuing now is, as I say, embarrassing (and I was never a fan of Dubya). Moreover, it cheapens the efforts of Nobel Laureates who have actually done something for their awards. For what it’s worth, I would have given this year’s prize to Morgan Tsvangirai.

Go here for an excellently-worded response to the fiasco by The Times.