Nobel Peace Prize worth anything?

Who is this pack of men in Sweden that decide this award? And why does it seem to carry so much weight? Is it really any more substantial than an Emmy, a Grammy, an Espy a Spanky or any other frivolous exercise in peer adulation?

The Nobel people decided a while back to politicize the hell out of the “peace” archetype. Thus Jimmy “The Grinning Chavez Stooge” Carter picked one up during the run-up to the Iraq War. Kofi Annan scored in 2001 while the UN, on his watch, was enabling rampant profiteering in the Oil-for-Food-and-Kickbacks-For-the-Well-connected program. Of course there’s the all-time classic Joseph Rotblat, the 1995 Nobel-trophy winner who was previously decorated not only by the Nobel committee but by Czech dictator Husak and the Polish hammer Jaruzelski both of whom earned “peace” in their countries with military crackdowns. Nice company.

The true breakthrough came this year in awarding the blue ribbon to Harold Pinter, the consummate poser of postmodern poserdom, the Lord of the Perenially Indignant. Mark Steyn summarizes Pinter’s dramatic technique as “a pause followed by a non sequitur.” And “non sequitur” certainly describes the choice. Perhaps no one has been so childishly hostile to the United States. Pinter’s charade is an endless contrivance of rudeness and disapproval. He’s quite keen that everyone should believe that his vitriol, his staged scowl, and his steady glare are born of his deeper understanding of the true state of things.

But, OK–Pinter is a member of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic. As comedy it’s not bad when a body of men responsible for choosing the human embodiment of the “peace” ideal decides that a defender of Slobodan Milosevic (who tried to enact a mini-Holocaust in the Balkans) is their man. And anyone who describes the United States as “the most dangerous power the world has ever known” is good for a laugh. But maybe it’s just that time to recognize that the Nobel Prize isn’t much more than entertainment itself.

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4 thoughts on “Nobel Peace Prize worth anything?

  1. You’re right that a) the Nobel prize doesn’t change the world into a beautiful utopia, and b) that some laureates seem to have been recipients of politically motivated awards.That said, this list of peace prize winners since 1990 does have some deserving names. Surely you would agree, Stu:2005 International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei2004 Wangari Maathai2003 Shirin Ebadi2002 Jimmy Carter2001 United Nations, Kofi Annan2000 Kim Dae-jung1999 Médecins Sans Frontières1998 John Hume, David Trimble1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams1996 Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, José Ramos-Horta1995 Joseph Rotblat, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs1994 Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin1993 Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk1992 Rigoberta Menchú Tum1991 Aung San Suu Kyi1990 Mikhail Gorbachev

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  2. I don’t know about the prizes for peace or literature (and since Pinter won for Literature, you seem to be lumping the two together), but in the science fields the Nobel Prize is nothing to sneeze at. Even in for these other areas, though, there does seem to be a fair amount of politics involved, as was apparently the case in 2003 when the prize committee chose to honor the inventors of MRI, but left out a promonent early MRI researcher, Raymond Damadian.

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  3. Re the MRI award, it was my understanding that the politics came <>after<> the announcement. That is, that Dr Damadian raised a ruckus because he thought he’d been slighted. But the argument against his being included was something like his contribution was secondary, or something.But I can’t recall much more than that…

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  4. I think you’re right, Lancer. Damadian took out a couple of ads in his campaign to be included in the award and there was some hubub about him being slighted b/c of his religious convictions (he’s apparently a creationist), but I’m not sure if I buy it. I think the Nobel committee got it right and was not influenced by politics.

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