It must be nice to be a member of the Nobel committee that determines who or what gets the Peace Prize. You are accountable to no one. You can make idiotic decisions about who is a peace promoter as well as, for that matter, what constitutes peace. You can give the prize to Henry Kissinger, a guy almost singlehandedly responsible for rescinding a do-not-assassinate warning to certain murderous South American dictators, among them General Augusto Pinochet of Chile.
Five days after the cancellation of that warning, Orlando Letelier, a dissident Chilean politician and economist, and Ronni Moffitt, a young American woman, were both killed in Washington, DC, when the Chilean secret police arranged to have the car they were riding in blown up. The media used to say that this was the first foreign attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Well, that was then …
Now the Nobel people have informed the world that the European Union is at least as deft and passionate about promoting peace as Kissinger. Or could be at least. The Nobel Peace Prize committee likes to promote a kind of wild-eyed optimism when naming its winners (after all, almost four years back it gave the peace prize to Barack Obama during his first milliseconds as president of the United States: possibly on the premise that maybe the new US president could be a peacemaker if the idea appealed to him some day or other).
Even Nobel committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland used the conditional tense during the current Peace Prize go-round: the EU, he said, deserved the peace prize because “we saw that the prize could be important in giving a message to the European public of how important it is to secure what they have achieved on this continent.”
Of particular interest to Jagland was the mass murder in the Balkans. “We have to remember,” Jagland went on to say, “that not many years ago these people were slaughtering each other on the streets.” Interesting words, considering that, as Doug Bandow writes in Forbes, it was actually the EU’s very own founding member, Germany, that helped set off the Balkans debacle in the early ’90s by recognizing seceding territories prematurely.
Even more interesting: it was not the EU at all but NATO (hounded by the US) that engaged in widespread airstrikes against Bosnian Serb positions, which ultimately forced the latter to withdraw their heavy weapons from Sarajevo—and it was the Clinton administration that helped end all that slaughter with the Dayton (as in Ohio) Agreement. The European Union—let us be blunt about this—didn’t lift a finger: not to disarm, not to prevent and not to reconcile.
But in order to determine EU worthiness in being offered and then accepting the Nobel Prize, let’s move a bit closer to the present day. In early May of this year, Hamas—which the EU has described as a terrorist organization—announced that five component states had been engaged in secret political talks with the group. Among them, according the Associated Press, which interviewed a number of Hamas officials: Britain, the Netherlands, and France. (Britain’s response was one of those non-denial denials: “We do not have any direct contact with Hamas,” said its Commonwealth Office. Meaning that … they actually kind of do have contact with Hamas.)
Of course the best part of the latest Peace Prize bestowal is that Norway, home of the Nobel, is not an EU member. Its population has seen to that. In a 1972 referendum, more than half the population voted against joining. In 1994, more than half the population again voted against joining.
Maybe the average Norwegian knows something the Oslo Nobel committee members do not.