The Nobel Committee has yet again awarded a peace prize that violates the will of Alfred Nobel and the purpose for which the prize was created, selecting recipients who blatantly are not “the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”
That there are numerous candidates who plausibly meet the criteria and could have been appropriately awarded a Nobel Peace Prize is established by the list of nominees published by Nobel Peace Prize Watch, and by the War Abolisher Awards which were given out two days ago to highly qualified persons and organizations selected from dozens of nominees. Three awards were presented. The Lifetime Organizational War Abolisher of 2021: Peace Boat. The David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher of 2021: Mel Duncan. The War Abolisher of 2021: Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina.
The trouble with the Nobel Peace Prize has long been and remains that it often goes to warmongers, that it often goes to good causes that have little direct connection to abolishing war, and that it often favors the powerful rather than those in need of funding and prestige to support good work. This year it has been awarded to another good cause that has little direct connection to abolishing war. Although virtually every topic can be tangentially connected to war and peace, the avoidance of actual peace activism intentionally misses the point of the prize’s creation by Alfred Nobel and the influence of Bertha von Suttner.
The Nobel Peace Prize has devolved into a prize for random good things that don’t offend a culture dedicated to endless war. This year it was awarded for journalism, last year for working against hunger. In past years it has been awarded for protecting children’s rights, teaching about climate change, and opposing poverty. These are all good causes and can all be connected to war and peace. But these causes should go find their own prizes.
The Nobel Peace Prize is so devoted to awarding powerful officials and avoiding peace activism that it is often awarded to the wagers of wars, including Abiy Ahmed, Juan Manuel Santos, the European Union, and Barack Obama, among others.
At times the prize has gone to opponents of some aspect of war, advancing the idea of reforming even while maintaining the institution of war. These awards have come closest to the purpose for which the prize was created, and include the 2017 and 2018 prizes.
The prize has also been used to advance the propaganda of some of the world’s major war makers. Awards like this year’s have been used to denounce violations of human rights in non-Western nations targeted in the weapons-funding propaganda of Western nations. This record allows Western media outlets each year to speculate before the prize announcement on whether it will go to favorite propaganda topics, such as Alexei Navalny. The actual recipients this year are from Russia and the Philippines, Russia being the primary target of U.S. and NATO war preparations, including the primary excuse for the construction of new military bases in Norway.
Journalism, even antiwar journalism, can be found around the world. Violations of the rights of antiwar journalism can be found around the world. The most extreme case of violating the rights of one of the most impactful antiwar journalists is the case of Julian Assange. But there was never any question of the prize going to someone targeted by the U.S. and UK governments.
At a moment when the world’s largest weapons dealer, most frequent launcher of wars, dominant deployer of troops to foreign bases, greatest enemy of the International Criminal Court and the rule of law in international affairs, and supporter of oppressive governments — the U.S. government — is trumpeting a division between so-called democracies and non-democracies, the Nobel Committee has chosen to throw gas on this fire, declaring:
“Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ‘troll factories’ to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia. Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence, and murder.”
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon, and U.S. President Joe Biden will be delighted with this selection — Biden far more in fact than with the awkwardness of being ridiculously given the prize himself (as was done with Barack Obama).
Also given the prize this year was a journalist from the Philippines already funded by CNN and by the U.S. government, in fact by a U.S. government agency often involved in funding military coups. It is worth noting that the Nobel Peace Prize was established to help fund peace activists in need of funding.