Friday, February 21, 2003  

Today's Fisking: Ignoble Peace Prize - Paul Hamilos, The Guardian

...Added to this, we are not even two months into the new year, and Jimmy Carter is still basking in the glory of last year's award.

Basking? Yes. Glory? No.

How can anyone put forward either Chirac or Bush?

Well, you could argue that Bush is leading the fight against Islamic terrorism, Iraqi fascism, and nuclear proliferation. That would be a good start towards peace, if you define "peace" as "the absence of mortal danger to free society". Of course, if you define "peace" as "absence of war," then I suppose Chirac might be just as good of a nominee.

With the war in Iraq not even started yet, it seems odd that the two are in the running. Putting aside the hawk's view of the French president and the dove's view of Bush, the idea that either of them is promoting world peace seems not only ludicrous but also an offence to the meaning of the word. Have those responsible for sending these nominations to the Nobel institute misplaced their dictionaries?

See discussion above. You could argue the "absence of threat" definition or the "absence of violence" definition, but I really don't know what other definition one could come up with. In other words, the Bush and Chirac nominations are mutually exclusive, unless you go for some really far-out definition of peace such as "absence of war, but for all the right reasons -- none of them having to do with French self-interest -- especially if there's some sort of feminist/ecological/multi-culti rationale." Something tells me Mr. Hamilos would go for the third definition.

But then, this is nothing new for the Nobel peace prize. After all, Adolf Hitler was in the running in 1938. Yes, that's 1938, not 1933 - after the persecution of the Jews had been established under the Nuremberg laws.

Must agree with Mr. Hamilos here. This is the same prize awarded to Yassir Arafat, another noted Jew-hater and murderer.

This was also the same year in which Gandhi was nominated, although the committee agreed that he didn't deserve recognition. Alfred Nobel, incidentally, also invented dynamite.

This is simply a variant of the "reductio ad hitlerum" argument -- if Alfred Nobel invented something "violent" (and, incidentally, tremendously useful) then this mystically imbues everything that bears his name, including the Nobel Peace Prize, with violence. Wow, that's deep.

And there was also the famous comment by the American songwriter Tom Lehrer, who believed that "political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1973, Kissinger, then the US secretary of state, was jointly honoured with his Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, for their roles in negotiating the Vietnam peace accord.

There was a certain irony in this, as Kissinger is accused of deliberately scuppering the peace talks in 1968, leading to the unnecessary prolongation of an already pointless war. His "peace efforts" in Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Bangladesh and East Timor also failed to win universal praise. Le Duc Tho, quite understandably, declined to accept the award.

And in a not-so-surpising bout of parallelism, Hamilos finds the perfect bookend to Hitler, Henry Kissinger. Good ol' Kissinger, the hard left's favorite kind of whipping boy: conservative, American, and a Jew. Kissinger "is accused" of doing various and sundry things by some unnamed accuser (perhaps it's Christopher Hitchens, who manages to maintain his lefty cred by hanging onto his obsession with Kissinger), but where's the proof?

The Nobel peace prize, however, is not just for old war criminals. In 2001, Swedish MP Lars Gustafsson nominated football. All right, the beautiful game didn't win, but what was he thinking? Surely such a prize can only be awarded for deliberate actions made by sentient beings (and whatever you think of David Beckham, nobody would accuse him of being that).

Logical types will notice that an essential part of Mr. Hamilos' argument boils down to this: David Beckham = the game of football. Nice argument dumbass.

You might cite the famous Christmas Day match between German and English soldiers stuck in the trenches during world war one as an example of football's unifying qualities. A brief look at the history books shows, however, that that particular game did not bring war to an end and that the sharing of half-time oranges failed to prevent them from killing each other a day later.

What is particularly startling about the peace prize is just how many of its recipients have been men, generally regarded as more the more bloodthirsty of the sexes.

Whoop! Whoop! Sexism alert! Okay, I'm just giving you a taste of your own PC medicine. You're right, men are probably more bloodthirsty than women. What's startling about the fact that they win more Nobel Peace Prizes, though? Historically speaking, men have held a disproportionate number of politically influential positions, the type of positions required to effect significant change for good or bad. Thus, it's not surprising at all that they've won more peace prizes.

Of the 110 prizes that have been awarded, a dismal 10 have gone to women, including Mother Teresa (1979) and Aung San Suu Kyi (1991).

Why is it dismal? What difference does the sex of the winner make?

As these awards were met with far less outrage than that which greeted some of the male winners, it leads one to wonder why it is that men, who usually opt for war, are the ones who have generally gained the plaudits for peace.

See above. Geez, does it really take that much "wondering" to figure out why men have won more prizes than women when one of the prerequisites to winning is that you make an impact significant enough to be recognized by the global community?

The prize was inspired by Alfred Nobel's secretary, Bertha von Suttner, who was nominated four times (nothing to do, of course, with Alfred being deeply in love with her) and was the first female winner in 1905.

So it's been corrupt from the start, no surprise there.

But, despite the abundance of potential female winners that followed her, from the suffragettes to the feminist movement, we still prefer to congratulate the men for their efforts.

Abundance? You name two rather dubious candidates, neither of whom, from what I can tell, advanced world peace at all. (Although either one of them would be preferable to the likes of Yassir Arafat, who has actually had a negative effect on world peace.)

Perhaps it is because society sees women as inherently peaceful creatures and that any man who has overcome his natural inclination to maim and slaughter is immediately deserving of some kind of award.

Blah, blah, blah. If you're going to criticize the Nobel Peace Prize, can't you find something better than an unsupportable pseudofeminist argument?

So where does that leave us in 2003? With a multi-millionaire Irish pop star; a French president who is stalling over Iraq for reasons of self-interest; an American leader whose peace credentials are at best dubious, at worst non-existent; and an institution, the EU, that is being torn apart by the upcoming war.

You're right, none of these guys should win. They should give it to the one institution that has done more for world peace, year after year, than any other: the United States Armed Forces.

So, who should be in the running? Well, taking the lead from the Kissinger-Tho Le Duc award, I go for the Iraqi foreign secretary, Tariq Aziz, and his US counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld.

We may have to put up with a bloody, murderous war beforehand, but if these two can sit around a table before the end of the year to sign a peace treaty, surely they're a shoo-in?

Yeah, you'll have to "put up with" a war, such are the burdens of being a left-wing newspaper writer in England.

posted by Geraldine | 3:09 PM
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