So the Nobel Peace Prize Committee members have a thing for dissenters like laureates Liu Xiaobo (2010), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Lech Walesa (1983), Andrei Sakharov (1975) and Carl von Ossietzky (1935), eh? Here's some dissent against them: Your recent award choices do more harm than good as far as furthering peace is concerned, your membership should be revoked immediately, and you should be replaced by people who can carry out their legal duties adequately, at least. Here’s why.
To be clear, I am not dissenting against the Nobel Peace Prize itself, though its domination of the global popular imagination when it comes to peace is debilitating, nor am I downplaying the dissenters they have honored, who though icons limit social change as such. What I am saying is that its members and all those worldwide who look up to their choices (to say nothing of the nominators, who in-breed bad decisions as former laureates) would do well to take an extra-large dose of their own medicine when it comes to dissent. There are two main reasons why I am calling for the impeachment of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
First, they have betrayed the legally-binding intent of Alfred Nobel (inventor of dynamite and an arms manufacturer) in his will and testatment, which created the Nobel Peace Prize, and so should be class-action sued by his heirs and estate, not to mention honest fans of the award worldwide and rejected (worthy) awardees. Second, they have and continue to ill-advisedly reinforce peace work as the amorphous enterprise it already is in the minds of most people globally, to its severe detriment. Then there's China's reaction to this year's laureate, but I will leave that for last.
“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows... one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” That's what Mr. Nobel wanted done with his money, what the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is legally bound to do because it's his will, and what they have not been doing in their recent choices.
Mr. Nobel's definition of peace is as limited as it was for most members of his class, culture and historical moment. It is equally unfortunate that this definition still dominates how peace is thought about and acted upon worldwide, in large part thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize itself. But in trying to expand this definition, Nobel Peace Prize Committee members have not only negligently not carried out their legal duties, they have confused and confounded what peace means beyond Nobel's narrow-minded definition without ever explicitly tying their choices to it. Might as well give Heinz the Chemistry Prize for inventing ketchup.
Take just two recent examples of the Nobel Peace Prize being wrongly awarded. One is to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) for their environmental work, the other to Muhammad Yunus for his microlending work. In the case of Gore, he should have received one of the science Prizes; in the case of Yunus, the Economics Prize; in the case of neither the Peace Prize. Why? Not because their transformational work isn't important and doesn't contribute to peace, but simply because neither of them meet the criteria that Alfred Nobel set for the Nobel Peace Prize, which the Committee's and commentators' attempts to rationalize the choices in itself makes clear.
The same self-evidently goes for this year's laureate, Liu Xiaobo (who should have received the Literature Prize, not that this year's choice of Mario Vargas Llosa wasn't fully worthy), which brings me to my response to China's response. Political statements poor Nobel Peace Prize laureates make, just think back to last year's disastrous choice of Barack Obama, who has since carried out the largest weapons deal in U.S. history and stationed some 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in an imperial war now entering it's tenth year. Oh, and certinaly no one in the world did more for peace according to Nobel's terms before he won the Prize, as even President Obama himself less sarcastically admitted.
And instead of giving the Nobel Peace Prize to a dissenter against these international travesties, which would at least have had some vague relation to Nobel's dying wishes and bring them into a light from which they are systematically hidden, the Committee members give it to a dissenter against a dometic travesty that is already globally acknowledged, effectively covering the tracks of (or at best creating a distraction tactic away from) their choice of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is our early century's biggest warmonger after his predecessor.
Unfortunately for eligible laureates, Obama's America generally doesn't yet throw dissenters in jail like China does, so they don't become living martyrs easily glorified by lazy ga-ga journalists and activists abroad; rather, Obama's officials just raid such dissenters' houses, and prevent them from steering terrorists towards peace. China's response was appropriately furious, if also for reasons we like Liu Xiaobo should all dissent to in our own backyards, and not expect a Nobel Peace Prize because doing so is called thinking.
Photo Credit: Rankingranqueen