The Nobel Peace Prize is a Sick Joke

The Nobel Peace Prize is a sick joke. The Nobels in general are something of a joke. But the Peace Prize, while good in theory and sometimes very appropriately awarded, has been given too liberally, with too little forethought or scrutiny into the records of its recipients, and at times for nakedly political motives. Most egregious, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to multiple war criminals.

That Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 was a disgrace and should have probably been the death knell for the award. Kissinger is, and should be remembered as, one of the worst war criminals of the past century. While working under Nixon, Kissinger sabotaged peace talks that could have ended the Vietnam war. He intentionally worked to prolong and expand the war for personal political gain for himself and Nixon. His work expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia, made the war far longer, and cost many thousands more lives. The ceasefire that he eventually helped broker not only came long after the delays he himself caused, but was regarded as ridiculous and in bad taste, including by his co-recipient Le Duc Tho, who declined the award on principle of its farcical premise, as no peace had been established; the ceasefire failed and the war carried on until the North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

In 1973, the same year he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, kissinger orchestrated the military coup that forced the democratically elected president Salvador Allende and his administration from the Chilean government, kicking off a campaign of violence and oppression under the Pinochet dictatorship.

During his tenure, and in result of the standard set by his approach on foreign policy, the United States followed a doctrine under which any actions, however unethical, however many lives are lost, are justifiable so long as they serve the US’s (primarily economic) interests.

Despite this, Kissinger has long enjoyed bi-partisan coddling and praise, so far as the Republican and Democractic parties can be considered two legitimately distinct and opposing entities. His withered old mass-murderer’s dick has been sucked as vigorously by Obama and Clinton as it was by Nixon and Reagan. Only genuine progressives and scrupulous journalists have never let the soulless bastard off the hook.

To his credit, I grudgingly note that Kissinger “attempted” to return his Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, and apparently gave the Prize money to a charity benefiting the children of service officers killed in action. By no means, however, does that absolve him for orchestrating the conditions that led to those service members’ deaths. Nor does it do a damn thing for the millions killed in their own countries in the war, or for their families.

1993 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, the ostensible leader of Myanmar, once persecuted by her country’s military regime, spent the past week defending her country’s military for its war crimes and crimes against humanity, including charges of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Rohingya. While she herself is not guilty of murdering and raping thousands of people, or throwing babies into burning buildings, she is meant to oversee the military that has been committing these atrocities. She spent the past week in front of the International Criminal Court defending the military personnel serving under her, claiming that charges of genocide are false and unfair, making the bullshit “there was violence committed by both sides” argument, and insisting that it’s an internal matter, that offenders will be brought to justice within Myanmar’s military justice system. As was pointed out in the trial, the Myanmar military officials who’d oversee such proceedings have themselves been charged with these crimes, and it strains credulity that war criminals will adequately prosecute themselves.

While we can’t expect the Nobel committee to be omniscient or extrasensorially prescient, they should allow sufficient time to pass to ensure that those they award don’t go on to defend genocide in the Hague. They also shouldn’t give the award to someone before they do something of genuine merit.

In the case of Barack Obama, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his first year in office, before having done anything much of note besides win an election, the award proved very premature. Perhaps there was no way of knowing that Obama would go on to expand the drone assassination program, or allow the practice of mass domestic warrantless wiretapping to continue unabated, or deport more immigrants than any predecessor, or that his justice department would prosecute more whistleblowers and journalists than all previous presidents combined, or that he’d maintain the status quo of the US as global hegemonic militaristic empire, conducting illegal war exercises, or selling arms and aiding dictators for profit.

This year’s recipient, Abiy Ahmed, was given the award "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea." Don’t bother examining whether his efforts have borne fruit or will. Let’s hope war between the two nations doesn’t break out again, but maybe it would be prudent to wait more than a year after a war has been declared over before handing out prestigious, apparently irrevocable, awards.

The list of Nobel Peace Prize winners is such a nonsensical mix of good people who did good work and monsters who did monstrous things that its legitimacy and value are highly suspect. Henry Kissinger does not deserve to share space on any list with Martin Luther King jr. The accomplishments of the latter are disgraced by the former.

But perhaps it’s all a matter of perspective. After all, giving a peace award named for a man who was known in the press of his day as the “merchant of death” for his ownership of more than ninety armament factories, and the invention of dynamite (great for exploding people), is ironic, and a sick joke in itself.

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