10/13/12 Nobel Peace Prize . . . It Ain’t What It Used To Be

In 1893, upon reading a French newspaper obituary for his brother, Swedish arms manufacturer, chemist, inventor of modern smokeless gun-powder, and the inventor of Dynamite, Alfred Nobel, seeing himself labeled as “The Merchant of death”, was a bit concerned about how he might be viewed through the lens of posterity. Like many wealthy industrial barons of that time and this one as well, he grew perhaps a bit remorseful over the manner in which he made his great wealth, and/or the amount of it. Nobel was, by all indications, one of the world’s most prolific inventors of new means and methods by which men more efficiently kill other men. This led him to make some decisions about what to do with his large fortune upon his death, because he did not want to be remembered as its “merchant.” Who would want to be remembered like that?

Nobel bequeathed 94% of his fortune to be used to create a foundation which would award annual cash prizes in those areas that he thought were of the greatest benefit to mankind: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. Several committees were formed to investigate and award prizes in each field, with Nobel’s specific instructions that a committee be formed in Norway (then a part of a Norway/Sweden union) to investigate and award an annual Peace Prize. Since 1905, this has been the task of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It seems likely, based on some of the awards of the last few years, that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has grown fat and lazy, and run out of fresh ideas. Maybe the committee still has its original members since Norwegians descend from hardy stock. Perhaps it’s time for the Nobel Foundation to consider making some changes to the committee’s members.

There have been times in world history since the invention of the Nobel Peace Prize, that no Peace Prize was awarded. With the world already in the throes of WWII in 1939, there was no prize, nor during the years of 1940-42 when Germany occupied Norway, and a few other years along the way when the committee either felt there was no worthy person to receive the prize, or perhaps they did not have the time to leave their Norwegian retirement home Tuesday bridge game to make decisions about who might receive the award. Real, bona-fide persons who have made great personal sacrifices to serve the peace, prosperity, and liberty of their own countries have been awarded the prize, but there have been a few clams along the way. 2012 is a clam year. I will get on to that in a minute.

Many great Americans have been awarded Nobel Peace Prizes since its inception.

  • Theodore Roosevelt was awarded it in 1906 for his role in brokering a peace agreement in the Russo-Japanese war.
  • Woodrow Wilson was awarded it in 1919 for his greatest failure: the establishment of the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations), which The United States declined to join and soon collapsed without its support (as would the UN would perhaps do today were the USA to pull out).
  • Secretary of State Cordell Hull (1945, the first and least controversial of TWO Tennesseans to win the prize) for his work in establishing the United Nations (Franklin Delano Roosevelt called Hull, “The Father of the United Nations”)
  • African-American diplomat Ralph Bunche (1950) for his work in mediating peace in Palestine in the late 40’s when Israel was being established
  • Former Secretary of State, Chairman of the joint-chiefs-of-staff, and general George Marshall, whose Marshall Plan helped restore prosperity to the ashes of a starving and devastated war-torn Post WWII Europe
  • Dr. Linus Pauling (1962 – he won TWO  by the way. His first one was in chemistry in 1954 – and he is considered by many to be the second most influential scientist of the 20th century, behind Albert Einstein) for his work in declaring the dangers of the continuing development of nuclear weapons, for which he came under some nefarious government scrutiny in those McCarthy era years, having his passport revoked by the State Department
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964 – the first of TWO Georgia natives), whose work needs no description here since all Americans should know who he is and what he did and shame-on-you-if-you-don’t.

From here on to the present, the American Peace Prize winners get a bit more controversial, perhaps merely because they are so close in our memory (or at least in mine), and perhaps because of careless sloppiness by Norwegians grown fat and drunk on rakfist, the putrid, brine soaked, gelatinous, fermented fish Norwegians seem to like so much. Undoubtedly, rakfist is an acquired taste, much like the following list of Americans who received the Peace Prize.

Former Secretary-of-State Henry Kissinger, shared the 1973 Peace Prize with North Vietnamese politician and communist party leader, Le Duc Tho. Tho declined the Peace Prize, saying, “There is no peace in Viet Nam.” Many think Kissinger is unworthy of having received the prize for the Paris Peace talks since they view Kissinger as a war criminal for his role in promoting the secret bombings in Cambodia. However Kissinger’s nomination was considered, the awarding and acceptance of his Nobel Peace Prize is certainly not without controversy.

Jimmy Carter (2002 – the other Georgian). Former President Carter established his Carter Center, “to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” One might add, if one were of a mind, “And to plead and beg for a better legacy than a weak, pusillanimous presidency, by winning a Nobel Peace Prize.” Jimmy Carter seemed to have a sign on his back with the legend, “Please Award me a Nobel Prize.” There is no question that Carter made real and valuable contributions to the improvement of life in many parts of the world, particularly, this writer thinks, with his work with Habitat-for-Humanity, but it was obvious to everyone that Carter was lobbying for the prize, wanted the prize, and needed the prize. It is hard to gauge another man’s motivations, but Carter’s pandering was just a bit too obvious. At least Carter worked for many years to win the award. Perhaps some sleepy Norwegian committee member, the overwhelming smell of rakfist on his breath, in some off-year when no one in particular was obviously worthy of the award, said, “Goodness gracious . . . go ahead and give the award to Carter so he will stop sending us his resume and press releases every week.” In any case, Carter won the prize, but unfortunately, he has seen it cheapened since then.

In 2007, former Vice-President Al Gore won the Peace Prize. He is the other Tennessean. He won the prize for his work on the International Committee for Climate Change, primarily for his oft discredited documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth” which has Gore monotonously lecturing an apparently Xanaxed audience with a PowerPoint presentation filled with spurious, anecdotal data, and scientific data later shown to have been compromised by over-zealous researchers. I am not denying climate change, but I am denying the alarmist nature the “inventor of the internet” brought into the dialog about climate change. He has been shown to leave a rather large carbon footprint, and would be about as remembered for his political contributions as former Vice-Presidents Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew (who at least did something actually memorable, even if it was illegal), and Aaron Burr (certainly memorable – everyone should know of the nefarious activities Burr found himself involved in, starting with the killing of Alexander Hamilton in a duel and not improving much after that and if not, well . . . were you asleep in history class, or were you a victim of the fashionable, modern history revisionism so popular in school curricula these days?). Al Gore has done what Al Gore has done. Whether it was worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize is certainly controversial.

Just eleven days after Barack Obama was sworn in as President (2009), he was nominated for the Peace Prize. “For what?” the world asked and is still asking. Over the next eight months, he was considered by the rakfist-breathed committee and then awarded the prize. “For what?” the world asked and is still asking. “For what?” Barack Obama asked himself. In the eyes of many, this frivolous award cheapened the Peace Prize to a new low. “What is the criteria for awarding a prize?” the world wanted to know. The Norwegians weren’t telling. I wonder if this was some sort of advance award? Getting elected to be President of the USA does not automatically earn one a Nobel Prize, at least it never has before, except in the case of Barack Obama.

Before I move on to the latest lazy gaffe of the Peace Prize Committee, let’s consider a few other things. In the last forty-one years, a Peace Prize has been awarded every year. This unabated burst of activity by the Peace Committee has led to some controversial awards and is the most lengthy period in the award’s history that it has consecutively awarded to someone . . . anyone. There was no award made in 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918 (WWI years), 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939-1943 (WWII years), 1948, 1955, 1956, 1966, 1967, and 1972. In those years no one was deemed worthy of having deserved the award. With all those non-award years, did the Nobel Foundation warn the committee members to get busy and stay busy?

Not all modern Peace Committee awards have been controversial; sometimes, they hit the nail squarely on the head

  • Albert Schweitzer (1952)
  • Andrei Sakharov (1975 – Soviet  Physicist and developer of their thermonuclear weapons program turned dissident, and both he and his wife were arrested and suffered during many years of Soviet repression, retribution and internal exile)
  • Mother Teresa (1979)
  • Lech Walesa (1983)
  • Mikhail Gorbachev (1990 – who presided over the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the iron curtain, and rest assured, it did not have to go that way. Though these events were not precipitated by Gorbachev — I’ll have to give Ronald Reagan and the people of The United States of America most of the credit for that — the political instability during that period could have caused any and/or all of the worst scenarios imaginable, so I tip my hat to Mikhail and the Peace Committee on this one!)
  • Aung San Syu Kyi (1991 – Burmese dissident who received her prize while in a prolonged house arrest and could not make her acceptance speech until 2012)
  • Nelson Mandela (1993 – he spent 30 years in a South African prison to earn his Peace Prize) 

One of the biggest gaffes committed by the Peace Committee was its failure to award a Peace Prize to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and just a few days prior to his assassination in 1948. 1939 and 1948 were among those years the committee decided that no one was worthy to receive the award. They simply must have eaten too much rakfist that year. Gandhi’s peaceful, consistent, non-violent revolution, resulting in his violent death, changed the shape of an entire sub-continent, liberated  hundreds of millions of people from colonial rule, started India on its trek into the modern ages, and profoundly influenced later generations of non-violent protesters of governmental repression, not the least of which was Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dalai Lama, who won the peace prize in 1989. Some said the awarding of the prize to the Dalai Lama was a tip of the Peace Committee’s collective hat to Gandhi, but this would be cheapening the award for the Dalai Lama, who has been a consistent champion of the peaceful freedom of his Tibetan homeland and people from Chinese domination during his long exile. The Dalai Lama has earned the peace prize all on his own! The Peace Committee has since expressed its regret over having not given Gandhi the award, but Gandhi did not do it for any award, nor would he likely enjoy being a Nobel Laureate today since its value has been considerably diminished.

So now, after that bit of background into Peace Committee foolishness, we get to their latest lazy display of rakfist-induced incompetence, the 2012 award. The winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize is . . . drum rolls please . . . The entire European Union. Though this is not the first time the prize has gone to a group (the International Committee for the Red Cross has won twice before), it is certainly the largest group to have done so. Now, the value of the award, after having been previously diluted by an insipid frivolity has been further divided by all five-hundred-million-plus of the EU’s inhabitants, or at least by the twenty-seven member states.

And how will the prize money be spent, and who will divide it? Perhaps it will go to Brussels where the disbursement of the prize money will be debated endlessly by emasculated diplomats sent there to merely occupy a seat since the EU governing body must DO something if nothing but produce documents of its having met to produce documents. Now, perhaps, they will have something to do that has a purpose besides asking Germany to bail out the weak sister nations whose cradle-to-grave social protections have reduced them to near bankruptcy and the least common denominator. Perhaps the bureaucrats will award themselves the prize money, splitting it up among themselves as a reward for their service to the European Union. Perhaps they will award the prize money to Greece, Ireland, Portugal, or Spain as those member nations face their own urgent debt crises. Perhaps they will use the money to offset EU peacekeeping forces they may have to send into Greece or Spain to stop rioting there as the they resist austerity measures and want to continue to spend more borrowed money each year than their gross domestic products will support for their own comfort and leisure. Perhaps the Germans will belligerently claim the money as payback for all money they have sent towards support of those bankrupt governments. Perhaps an angry Ireland will demand the money be given to them since it can really benefit their small population.

It could be that the wise bureaucratic sages in Brussels decide that the only way to divide the prize money equitably is to do a complete census update of the EU and send each and every one of the 500 million inhabitants their fair share. The current award is 8,000,000SEK (Swedish Krona). That’s 1,194,707.45USD at yesterday’s exchange rate, or 992,075.21EUROS. Divide that by 500 million and you get .00198 Euros per person (that’s about ¼ of one US cent).

Careful now! As you know, fantasy can overtake reality in a split-second on this blog.

After weeks of debate in the general session, and much more among the Committee for Disbursement, the proposed budget was finalized and reported to the Governing Board of EU Economic Affairs which made its report to the EU Presidency and general legislative body right away. Here is a copy of the proposed budget for the disbursement.

*All figures are in EUROS

It was to be expected that there would be much debate over this controversial proposal. After days and days of heated exchanges, it was voted for and duly passed to send Germany the bill for all ancillary costs of the disbursement, since they were the only nation with the ready cash to pay it, and to send each EU citizen their check for .00198 Euros. In order to facilitate the whole process, Germany was to be billed in advance of any actions other than the expenses of the oversight committee which had already occurred. Germany protested defiantly, to deaf ears, since the lone dissenting votes were offered by itself and the UK, which thought this was a profoundly foolish idea, no matter how equitable. Out-voted 25 to 2, the EU bill authorizing the disbursement was duly passed, signed by EU President Jose Manuel Barroso on December 12, 2012. “A gift for every EU citizen just in time for Christmas,” Barroso said during an interview with the BBC.

However, the frugal Germans began a full revolt at such a ludicrous gesture, forcing Berlin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to deny any authority of the EU to force it to pay the best part of a billion Euros to finance any such sort of fiscal tomfoolery. India, sensing that it was to be denied the €50Million envelope stuffing project, began to rattle its sabers along with several EU nations who bristled at Germany’s refusal to obey the direct legislative requirements of the EU. When the call to send EU troops into Germany was made on the floor of the EU parliament in Brussels, Germany began to mobilize its forces. The UK, having a long memory, began to actively mobilize its forces to prevent any lingering thoughts of European hegemony or Teutonic notions it felt may still be harbored in German minds. Russia, seeing all the mobilization then mobilized its own forces, and no longer having the man-power/conventional forces that were once available to the Soviet Union, put its nuclear forces on full alert.

This triggered all sorts of actions and reactions. Once Russia went on full nuclear alert, so did India. When India did, so did Pakistan. When Pakistan did, so did Israel. When Israel did, so did China, Iran (Who knew??), France, The UK, North Korea, and every other nation that possessed nuclear weapons. The USA went from DEFCON 3 to DEFCON 5, dispatching orders to reacquire targets, reconfirm both hardened and soft targets, and issued standby orders to its fleet of aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines on station around the globe. Suddenly, thousands and thousands of aircraft and ships carrying nuclear-warheads began to arm them on ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as conventional bombs. B-52s from Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, B-1Bs from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and B-2s from Eglin AFB in Florida and Edwards AFB in California were sitting on tarmacs along with tankers, engines running, flight crews all in place, ready to be dispatched; several were already in the air over North Atlantic international waters off the West coast of Europe.

The air was filled with electronic radiation designed to detect movements so slight that every hummingbird approaching a red-colored sugar-water filled feeder was evaluated against known signatures of stealthy aircraft. Hundreds of thousands of people were in such a heightened state of alert and anxiety that all it would take would be one single miscue to trigger WWIII, which, from all apparent indications, would last about thirty minutes to twelve hours, depending on which military nuclear scenario expert you consulted, and there were thousands of them, many of whom had never been closer than a computer screen to anything like a war. The news media called them “military analysts.” They were experts at “The World of Warcraft” video game. They were as comparable to real military experts as “Guitar Hero” experts are were they to stand alongside Stevie Ray Vaughn or Duane Allman.

At the very edge of the precipice, the insane world paused for a moment of sanity, afraid to breathe lest their actions be misconstrued; each nation waiting for the other nation to make one false move; each nation a bristling porcupine, quills raised, ready to pierce the mouth of the first flop-eared barking hound that took a snap at it . . . the hound longing to do that which its nature and training had purposed it, but wary of danger, sniffed the air for any change in scent, any pheromones released by fear or aggression by which it might predict the next move of the foe before his eyes. Fear had stopped the world for a moment, and the world wisely stopped to assess its fear . . . a very real, immediate one.

The Norwegian government, not a member of the EU, hastily got in touch with the Nobel Peace Committee, demanding they immediately rescind the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU, since this single event had brought the world to the brink of war. A letter was hastily drafted and sent via courier from Norway to Brussels in a diplomatic pouch. From Brussels, a letter was dispatched electronically to all heads of EU nations, NATO nations, SEATO nations, and non-aligned nations.

The first letter, from the Nobel Committee:

Dear President Barroso:

It is with the greatest regret that the Nobel Peace Committee announces to you, for your immediate communication to your member nations, that it has overstepped its authority and charter in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 to the EU. Our parent organization and overseer of our duties has called to our attention that single award can be smared among no more than three persons. We have exceeded our authority by awarding the Peace Prize to the 500 million plus persons in the EU, and unfortunately, despite your expectations, must rescind the award, effective immediately. We are sure this will be very disappointing for you and the 500 million plus people you represent, who expected to share in the 992 thousand Euro Christmas-time bonus, however, we thank you in advance for recognizing our predicament and understanding our immediate, pressing need to rescind the award.

In lieu of the Peace Prize, and as a way of atonement for your disappointment and this being the season in Norway for rakfist, our favorite national dish, we are offering by way of compensation an amount of fresh rakfist, if rakfist can be called fresh, equal in value to the Peace Prize award. It is being prepared for shipment to Brussels as we speak. The rakfist will keep indefinitely without any refrigeration or other preservative requirements whatsoever. So, our recommendation is that you keep it on hand in Brussels for any member of your peaceful union to come and get of it what he will, or whatsoever of it is left, without imposing on yourselves any requirements for distribution.

Again, our sincere regrets for this mishandling of the award, and we hope you enjoy the rakfist.

The Nobel Peace Committee, Oslo, Norway.

cc: The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden.

This letter went immediately out to the member states of the EU, with copies sent to all interested parties.

Dear EU Member Nation Presiding Executive:

Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Committee has rescinded the 2012 Nobel Peace Award to the EU. While we regret that this honor has been rescinded, it has immediately changed the course of lawful EU legislation, rendering it redundant and inapplicable. Therefore, I am waiving by executive privilege any compliance with 2012 EU Directive 3079941-A-78C.11275, Section II. Since there is no monetary award to be disbursed, the cited legislation is set aside until such time as it can be properly rescinded in due fashion.

Given under my hand and seal,

President Jose Manuel Barroso

P.S. If you like the tasty Norwegian national dish, rakfist, we will be glad to share any such as we (with the greatest anticipation) may receive from the Peace Committee.

Cc:     The Nobel Peace Committee, Oslo, Norway

          The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm

Instantly, the world breathed a sigh of relief. Orders were recalled, stand-downs were issued, and tensions eased as the world broke out in celebration over the avoidance of what seemed sure and certain nuclear destruction. It seemed that rather than poison the world with the frivolous awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, the members of the Peace Committee had just decided to poison the EU governing body with the rakfist, which was already being unloaded at the Brussels airport, to be shipped to the receiving docks of the EU headquarters…all thirty truckloads of it, brought directly from Valdres, Norway, the home of rakfist, flown in on USA C-5A cargo planes which were soon slated for retirement, which were indeed retired promptly after several leaking barrels of rakfist rendered them as unfit for further service due to hazardous materials contamination.

Brusselsters retched at the smell of the rakfist for several months. Belgian rats refused to touch it, though Nowergian Wharf Rats seemed to have a fondness for it. Only when a Norwegian or a Minnesotan came to town could they give any of it away. There was no in-fighting among EU nations to claim the rakfist, since no one wanted anything to do with it. Because of the threat of rakfist delivered to the capitals of their national governments, a peace broke out in Europe such as has never been seen. The very mention of rakfist caused diplomats and lawmakers to instantly turn to non-partisan, genuinely continental good-will efforts to see that all member nations were served. Europe became so peaceful that once again, the Peace Committee looked to the EU as a potential candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize; but their memory served them well, as did their review of the Nobel Foundation guidelines, which prohibited them from awarding any prize to more than three people.

After briefly considering awarding it again to Jimmy Carter, the Peace Committee considered awarding the now open 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to Oprah or Judge Judy, or having them share the prize. Fearful of another faux pas, the Peace Committee sent out feelers to the potential candidates. Judge Judy altogether declined their representatives an interview, citing a scheduling conflict. It was later decided that no one was deemed worthy to receive the 2012 award, so it took its place among the list of years that no award was made. 

And me? I have written here for hours and hours, enjoying wondering to myself about whatever-in-the-world the Peace Committee may have been thinking…speculating about it. Reflecting on the declining value, not of the monetary part of the award, but the value of the award itself, as it has now been shared frivolously and wantonly with so many people. If there is something that has kept the European nations from engaging in wholesale warfare against each other, it is the memories of what happened during WWII, not the existence of a European Union bound together by the thinnest of frayed and fraying threads. As the memories of WWII fade from living minds, and fade from prominent places in the minds of post-WWII generations, perhaps Europeans will rediscover their former hobby of warfare amongst themselves, but I hope not…I pray not. If former Nobel Peace Prize recipients George Marshall and Cordell Hull were here, they would be able to tell us about the Phoenix they have seen arise from the European ashes of WWII. If we knew what they knew, we’d all rush for the rakfist rather than the rifle.; the latter is deadly but a taste that can certainly be acquired, just like a taste for the former.

New Nobel-ish inventors have come up with far more efficient ways of killing men than Alfred ever dreamed of. We harness the power of the stars in devices that can kill men. We have devices wherein men cannot hide in the dark, are watched constantly from the sky, where they are killed by remote control by people whose only experience is ghoulishly similar to playing the “World of Warcraft.” This cannot bode well for the future since there will be no hiding place…not for the soldier, nor the old folks, nor the women or children, who have always been the ones to suffer from war, particularly if they were where the war happened to be taking place, and even if they were thousands of miles away, as they lost their husbands and wives, their sons and daughters, their fathers and mothers.

That’s enough for today. Now. Come on, Ole Miss, let’s beat Auburn!!! Hotty Toddy!

Added at 3:20CDT — Ole Miss handily whipped Auburn. I am telling you that this Ole Miss team is coming together, even as Auburn falls apart.

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