The Nobel Peace Prize has become somewhat of a joke, particularly in recent years. And with each passing year, it seems to become ever more ludicrous. This year, the European Union took home the prize. And while it’s not new for the Nobel Peace Prize to go to an organization rather than an individual, picking the EU this year, of all years, seems to be, at best, rather tone deaf.
There are right-wingers who don’t like the prize because it’s gone to the likes of Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and President Obama (for simply not being George W. Bush) in the recent past. There’s also conservative grousing that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher never won it. I’m not sure why conservatives would think that they’d be entitled to a go at the prize, as these were two of the most warlike western leaders the Anglophone world ever witnessed. But that underlies the point: it’s become nothing more, really, than a line on your resume. If you want to be a global statesman, it’s something that’s nice to have.
Henry Kissinger won it. Yasser Arafat won it. So as to be fair, these are two of the most ludicrous recipients of the prize in modern years, and I picked one that would infuriate the right, and one that should infuriate the left. And there’s controversy that surrounds, easily, at least another dozen recipients.
The fundamental problem with the Nobel Peace Prize is that it’s a political one. In at least all of the other prize categories, you have somewhat more objective criterion by which you can measure everyone (like chemistry and physics). But with politics, it’s a complete free-for-all. The prize committee would do well to look back to precedent from years past, and take a break. Historically, the prize has not been awarded every year. A three to four year hiatus, followed by a good decade of solid picks of actual peacemakers would go a long way to putting some of the luster back on the medallion that, particularly in the past decade, has begun looking increasingly tarnished.
But, inevitably, people will bitch. This is, after all, a political prize, and awarding it is, inherently, political.