According to Alfred Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who: “during the preceding year, 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 Norwegian Nobel Committee, appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, 2009 saw a record 205 nominations who competed against President Barack Obama for this year’s Nobel Laureate. We don’t know the names of other nominees who were passed over because Nobel Foundation statutes do not permit information about nominations, considerations or investigations relating to awarding the prize to be made public for at least 50 years after a prize has been awarded. Nominations from 1901 to 1955, however, have been released. Past nominees included Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini. Since it takes only one qualified person to nominate someone, these nominations do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Nobel committee members.
When I heard that Obama was selected for this year’s Nobel Laureate, I felt a bit embarrassed for him, and given his comment in the Rose Garden, he must have felt a bit embarrassed as well. He said, “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”
Typically, the Nobel Prize is awarded to someone, or an organization, that has actually done something, even if that something is controversial or unwise. But what has President Obama accomplished compared to other Nobel Laureates? One might speculate that the Nobel Committee selected Obama because it has started an affirmative action policy and has seen the virtues of racial diversity, which is all the rage these days, particularly among the elite.
After all, the committee hasn’t seen fit to give the award to a person of African ancestry since it honored Nelson Mandela in 1993 and earlier Desmond Tutu (1984), Martin Luther King (1964) and Ralph Bunche (1950). So far as people of African ancestry, the Nobel Committee has a ways to go. While people of African ancestry are roughly 14 percent of the world’s population, they are only five percent of the 98 individuals, since 1901, seen fit to be Nobel Laureates. Having awarded the Peace Prize to only three Asians, while Asians are almost 55 percent of the world’s population, suggests that the Nobel Committee’s Far Eastern diversity problem is insurmountable.
There might be other reasons why Obama was chosen. He has generated considerable goodwill among Europeans because he shares many of their values. Europeans are a people with little willingness to defend themselves. They are people who believe that peace treaties, appeasement and disarmament produce peace. As such, Obama has thrown in with their lot not to be a unilateralist and pledging to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. If Europeans had any sense, they should be worried about Obama’s vision. Americans pulled their chestnuts out of the fire in World War I, World War II and prevented them from being gobbled up by the communists during the Cold War. If we become a military weakling, who is going to protect Europe against a future tyrant? In addition to Obama’s goodwill among Europeans, shouldn’t we be worried about the goodwill and praise our president has received from enemies of liberty such as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi and Vladimir Putin?
President Obama could rise several notches in my book if he refused the Nobel Peace Prize, with a nice letter to the Nobel Committee that might read: Since you did not see fit to award Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president who did the most for world peace in this century, by peaceably shutting down the Soviet Union, I respectfully decline your offer.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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