E.U.’s Nobel Peace Prize: Does NATO Deserve It More?

The E.U. won the 2012 Nobel peace prize, but some argue other institutional actors played a far more immediate role in bringing security and prosperity to the once war-ravaged continent

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Vadim Ghirda / AP

The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to promote peace and democracy in Europe, in the midst of the union's biggest crisis since its creation in the 1950s.

When Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, woke up this morning he said he “did not expect it to be such a good day.” After all, it’s a moment where his region faces a seemingly insurmountable economic quagmire, soaring unemployment—a record 25 percent in Greece—and a political crisis that has exacerbated divisions in the continent rather than spur greater cooperation.

(MORE: E.U. Nobel prize sows discord — and laughter.)

But the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award an ailing E.U. the Peace Prize has caused many to question whether the Brussels-based grand project of European integration deserves the full credit for transforming “most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

Indeed, critics argue that the post-war peace was delivered by collaboration of several major players, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “If they want to give the prize for preserving the peace in Europe they should divide it between NATO and the E.U.,” former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said. “Until the end of the Cold War, it was NATO more than anyone else that kept the peace.”

(ESSAY: NATO’s Existential Quandary)

While NATO, also based in Brussels, was quick to congratulate the E.U. for playing a “vital role,” it did not forget to mention its own involvement. “From the outset, NATO and the European Union have shared common values and helped shape the new Europe,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s Secretary General.

Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic contributions to Europe’s decades of post-war stability. “I think the United States has played a far bigger role in bringing peace to Europe than the European Union,” he said, citing the much-lauded, iron-willed friendship of Thatcher and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Despite the savage conflict in the Balkans and the initial fumbled efforts to quieten hostilities, the Norwegian Commission praised the E.U. for bringing about reconciliation there, citing Croatia’s imminent inclusion into the Union, as well as the E.U.’s ongoing negotiations with Montenegro and its granting of candidate status to Serbia.

(MORE: After Chicago, How Long Can NATO Stay Relevant?)

U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, who negotiated the conflict-ending Dayton Accords with Richard Holbrooke in 1995 and now serves as the Dean of the Josef Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver,  says the E.U. has a continued responsibility to aid the Balkans. “I hope the award will not only be an award for things done but an award for things that still need to be done,” he says. “I think there is unfinished work in the Balkans, [such as in] Macedonia, to name one of the troubled countries. I hope the European union will take renewed interest in the region.”

Xenia Dormandy, a senior fellow at Chatham House focusing on U.S. foreign policy, happened to be in Brussels Friday. The mood, she said, was “pleased but skeptical.” Still, she said, the reward was justified. “There’s nobody that can make a credible argument to say the E.U. hasn’t created peace on a continent that hadn’t seen peace in centuries,” Dormandy said. “The idea that there would be a conflict between E.U. member states today—we don’t even think about it.”

ARCHIVE: NATO: The View at the Summit

9 comments
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Scythianbow
Scythianbow

Ask Afghan children if Nato deserves a peace prize.

You may hear "No. They killed my little sister."

American-led butchers.

LionOfSparta
LionOfSparta

Al Gore??? the EU??? the Nobel prize is a bigger joke than they are.

Abraham Yeshuratnam
Abraham Yeshuratnam

The Nobel Committee has a bias against American

writers, Horace Engdahl, the former permanent secretary of the

Nobel Prize jury, accused American writers of being raw and backward, of not being

up-to-date on the latest developments in Paris or other cities. He told the

Associated Press, "Of course there is powerful literature in all big

cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the centre

of the literary world ... not the United States…The US is too isolated, too

insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big

dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining," Engdahl said. This

statement reveals the Nobel jury’s ignorance of the fact that every year

American writers produce more than 50,000 works of high quality fiction. It is

this low opinion of jury members that made them choose an unknown Chinese

author for this years’ prize. The selection by this jaundiced-view jury in

other fields is also ridiculous. The EU has been selected for the award of

Peace Prize, although there are many selfless persons who have been working for

peace in troubled areas. Obama was selected for peace prize even though he had

not completed  six months as president.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan Obama is responsible for the killing of hundreds

innocent civilians and children by bombing their areas with drones.  Arafat, a terrorist and murderer was chosen

for peace prize. Krugman was selected for economics, overlooking outstanding

economists. Obama followed Krugman’s ideas and the country is now facing deep

recession and massive unemployment. Krugman is now a sleazy political columnist

instead of producing economic theories.

 

Leila Singh
Leila Singh

Simply put,  as of late the entire Nobel Committee seems to have wandered off  on the FAR SIDE!  Not funny. 

mladenm
mladenm

Well, these few years were not the finest in EU history,  but idea NATO might get Nobel Peace Prize is preposterous. Not only it is military alliance but also self-appointed Sheriff and Chief Judge of the Universe, in finest colonialist tradition.

rory2012
rory2012

Ida Amin or George Bush Jr. deserved better