Snowden nominated – Can the Nobel Peace Prize committee reverse its course?
by R. Teichmann
The Nobel Peace Prize. The politicians argue that “Snowden had contributed to global security by revealing “the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance.”
I wonder if they have not read what Alfred Nobel’s intent was. According to his will the price should be awarded
to those who 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.”
I am not going to judge the actions of Edward Snowden here, I am just asking if his disclosures have anything to do with the above criteria. In my opinion nothing.
Over time we have witnessed ”strange” decisions by the politicians that determine who will be honoured with this prestigeous award. They have gone so far as to award this prize to
Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. A man who was deeply intertwined with the military. He effectively was running the US Department of the Navy, then resigned and formed the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment that fought in Cuba. He later sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to demonstrate American power. His motto was “Speak softly and carry a big stick“. Though he is credited with negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War he was hardly a person who opposed war and violence in all its forms and worked for peace and non-violence. His actions and life spoke a different language.
Woodrow Wilson in 1919. A man, who in April 1917, asked Congress to declare war in order to make “the world safe for democracy.” He entered the US into the war and set up the War Industries Board, effectively laying the groundwork of what later became known as the “Military Industrial Complex”. Wilson also suppressed anti-war movements with the Espionage Act of 1917 (the same act that is now used by the Obama administration on its crackdown on dissenters) and the Sedition Act of 1918. Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his sponsorship of the League of Nations. Certainly he was not a man who was in favour of peaceful solutions.
Henry Kissinger in 1973. Not a man of non-violence at all. In an article published in Sept. 2013 in the Independent it is summed up as follows:
“Christopher Hitchens, in 2001, claimed to have amassed sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions for “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture” and “The charge sheet is extremely long, even considering the eight eventful years Kissinger was running US foreign policy: he and the CIA helped orchestrate the coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and his murder in 1973; he and Nixon invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970; they indiscriminately bombed civilians in that long war; connived in the Indonesians’ brutal repression in East Timor; left the Kurds to their fate at the hands of Saddam as early as 1972; the list goes on. “War criminal” and Nobel Peace Prize holder; the unique genius of Henry Kissinger.”
He signed a peace treaty when the war in Vietnam was lost and won the prize for it. His counterpart Le Duc Tho declined the prize saying: “Peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept the 1973 Nobel Prize for Peace which the committee has bestowed on me.”
- Barack Obama in 2009. “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The results of his “extrordinary efforts were”:
- Intensification of the war in Afghanistan
- The destruction of Lybia through an unprovoked attack
- Use of drones that kill innocent men, women and children in many countries
- Waging a war against Syria by proxy
- Engaging in new wars in Africa
- Threatening Iran with “all Options on the table” , ie. nuclear included
and so on.
The European Union in 2012 “for [having] over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” The committee obviously did not know that the EU carried out an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state (Jugoslovia). Peace Activist David Swanson writes:
“Europe is not a person. It has not during the past year — which is the requirement — or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. Ask Libya. Ask Syria. Check with Afghanistan. See what Iraq thinks. Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.”
And obviously the committee was also not aware that the EU has 1,5 Million soldiers under arms and spends €192.5 billion (2011) on the Miltary.
Hardly an organisation in favour of peace and non-violence.
These are just a few examples of , to put it mildly, “questionable” decisions by the Norwegian committee. If Edward Snowden becomes the next laureate he will add to a list of persons and organisations that have nothing to do with what Alfred Nobel envisaged. By no means do I want to take away from what Edward Snowden did but the question here is if this fits Alfred Nobel’s will. The fitting acknowledgement of what Edward Snowden has done for (not only) the American public would be to award him the Congressional Medal of Honour. There are always nominations for persons who would really deserve this prize like Chelsea (ex Bradley) Manning, who is now serving a 35 year sentence for her courage to expose the horrors of war to the world and to highlight the effects it has on victims as well as perpetrators of violence. For this year’s prize Mother Agnes Mariam has also been nominated. She has tiredlessly worked for peace amidst the chaos in Syria, for which some of the recent recipients have to share responsibility. If the prize would be awarded to Snowden that would certainly be an improvement but it would still not be in line with Nobel’s vision to abolish war. Let us see if the politicians forming the committee can rescue the peace prize from itself by selecting a deserving human being as per Nobel’s will.