The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 went to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Depending on your political views, you either think this was an excellent choice or a bad one. For those who lean right, it appears more like a political commentary on the ongoing situation in North Korea than a prize with any real content. Sadly, this is what it has devolved into in recent decades.
Take, for instance, the 1990 winner, Mikhail Gorbachev. Isn’t it odd that President Ronald Reagan – arguably the principal architect behind the concessions and ultimate fall of the Soviet Union – was not a co-winner of the prize? On other occasions, the Nobel Committee has been more balanced, such as in 1978 when Egypt’s and Israel’s Prime Ministers Anwar al Sadat and Menachem Begin co-won the prize. The mutuality involved in reaching a peace agreement was duly recognized and credited.
Reagan’s omission was an early omen of the degeneration that was about to come. In 2004, the winner was Wangari Mathai, and apparently, she only won because she was a black female environmentalist from Africa. Not relevant, but doggedly politically correct, scoring high on the intersectionality pecking order.
The PC trend continued in 2007 when Al Gore won the prize for making a propaganda movie about climate change, not about peace.
Peak political correctness was reached in 2009 when President Barack Obama won the prize before having accomplished anything. He received the award solely for not being George W. Bush. And maybe for being black. It was such a blatantly obvious hack that even the usually flamboyant Obama himself was visibly embarrassed and humble when addressing the press upon the news of receiving the prize.
Later, Obama went on to become anything but a Peace President, commanding drone attacks in the Middle East continually throughout his presidency. Eventually, he ordered ten times more drone strikes than George W. Bush.
In the aftermath, the Nobel Committee was heavily criticized and ridiculed from all sides for their incompetence. This is probably the reason that the following awards have been more in line with Alfred Nobel’s will, although still politically slanted. The 2017 award to ICAN is not horrible, but not great.
So how did the Nobel Peace Prize devolve from its original noble intentions?
Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, entrepreneur, and the inventor of dynamite. He made his fortune from oil and explosives. In his will, he instituted various awards, and in the spirit of Scandinavian brotherhood, he let the peace prize be determined in Norway. His will states:
“The [prize for champions of peace shall be awarded] by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian [Parliament].”
Herein, Nobel made his fatal error. He left the election of the Nobel Committee in the hands of politicians. Big mistake.
Naturally, the members of parliament interpreted this as a carte blanche to elect themselves as committee members. The Nobel Committee has become an esteemed way for Norwegian politicians to retire. Since politicians are not the brightest and the best, the committee has been consistently mediocre.
In other words, don’t expect improvement in the quality of the winners anytime soon.