Posted on | October 18, 2012 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D. |
So the EU has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Commission President Barroso says that this is a great honour, the President of the European Parliament struggles to get an invitation to the award ceremony because he thinks it is he who is the true representative of the EU, and one generally sees a lot of happy and proud faces in the corridors of the EU institutions.
But what I am asking myself is: who on earth should be interested in the opinions of a committee consisting of Norwegian social democrats??? Why is this Peace Prize supposed to be relevant?
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU might have been a great idea fifty or sixty years ago, when the wounds of the war were still fresh, and when courageous statesmen like Adenauer, De Gaulle, and Degasperi, or political visionaries like Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet (not to mention Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who propagated the idea as early as 1923!), paved the way for a completely new kind of political partnership and cooperation that helped turning foes into friends. But none of these founding fathers of European integration ever received the Nobel Peace Prize, even if the contribution this process makes for peace and prosperity were as easy to see then as it is today. In hindsight, it seems that the Nobel Prize Committee must have been blind, failing to support the idea of European integration when it still was novel and courageous. But maybe the Scandinavian political correctness of the time had other priorities…
Today, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize must in fact be considered a crisis symptom rather than an honour for the crisis-ridden EU. Quite obviously, what the Nobel Prize Committee always wants to achieve with its decisions is to “send a message”. This year, the “message” is that the Committee is worried over the state of the European Union, and over the fact that an increasing number of EU citizens is frustrated and angered, seeing the EU rather as the cause than as the solution of their problems. In particular, the Euro crisis is widely viewed as the result of political mismanagement by Europe’s top level political and economic elites. So the Committee thinks the time has come to “send the message” that the EU actually is a great thing, and that we all should be grateful for its achievements, despite the current problems.
As a message, this is probably not wrong. But the question remains: who cares?
Alfred Nobel seems to have been the first one to have this idea, but nowadays there is a multiplication of peace prizes and similar distinctions. And at times the award decisions say more about those who make them than about those whom they seek to distinguish.
In the best of cases, the award of such a distinction throws a spotlight on persons who, at a high personal risk – often at the risk of their lives! – courageously defend human rights and dignity in places where they have come under attack. This may have the effect of directing worldwide attention towards persons and countries that deserve and urgently need them. Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Prize has seldom been used in that way, but it has happened. The award of the prize to Aung San Suu Kyi or to Andrey Sakharov were such examples.
In many other cases, the award is simply a mere expression of the Scandinavian social democrat politically correct outlook on the world. The decisions to award the Prize to Barack Obama, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Willy Brandt, Elie Wiesel, the Pugwash Conference, or the UN, provide ample evidence.
But the worst case scenario is when a prize is awarded to personalities whose moral stature is such that they really don’t need any prize at all. In such cases, the impression is those awarding the prize actually want a part of the laureates’ reputation to fall on them. But really, who are they to believe that they are in a position to assess the merits of, say, a person like Mother Teresa? It is for the same reason that, when some politicians promoted the idea of nominating Pope John Paul II as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in view of his role in bringing about the downfall of Communism, I was horrified by the thought.
Norwegian politicians conferring a peace prize to a Pope – that would really be the culmination point of insolence and inadequacy…