Nobel Peace Prize Sows Discord — and Laughter

Comedy, of course, depends on timing, and the timing of this award couldn't be more piquant

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PEKKA SIPOLA / EPA

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, reacts to journalists' questions upon his arrival in Helsinki on Oct. 12, 2012

There are five of them: two men, three women, all Norwegians. They include ex–Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland, two former parliamentarians, a top lawyer and a onetime Bishop of Oslo. They look sobersided enough; you might easily believe them to be the board directors of a cementmaker or an accounting firm. But the Nobel committee has once again proved its flair for comedy, by awarding the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union.

Comedy, of course, depends on timing, and the timing of this award couldn’t be more piquant. As Jagland acknowledged in his Oct. 12 announcement of the winner, the E.U. “is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest.” As the members of the single currency find themselves trapped, in the memorable phrase of British Foreign Secretary William Hague, “in a burning building with no exits,” governments are battling one another and, not infrequently, their own citizens. As soon as news of the award broke, leaked by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK some 30 minutes before Jagland confirmed it, Twitter convulsed with merriment. Perhaps the committee meant to honor the E.U. for economics, mused some jesters. Others speculated that Germany would collect the prize money, more than US$1 million, and refuse to share it with Greece.

(MORE: Praise and Shock: E.U. Nobel Peace Prize Reactions)

To be fair, it’s not easy choosing the Peace Prize recipient. This year the committee had to evaluate 231 nominations — 188 for individuals and 43 for organizations. They opted for the E.U. on the basis that “the union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” said Jagland. He continued:

In the interwar years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France. Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a 70-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable.

That’s true enough and hugely important. But again, timing is everything. The announcement came on a day when many European news organizations featured a spat between Christine Lagarde, the former French Finance Minister who now heads the International Monetary Fund, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Lagarde warned that too much austerity risks deepening euro-zone problems. Schäuble erupted, “When you want to climb a big mountain and you start climbing down the mountain, then the mountain will get even higher!” That told her.

(MORE: Christine Lagarde: Emerging-Market Nations Will Get More Power in the IMF)

The odd cross word may be all that divides Germany and France (oh, and rising levels of French debt), but watching the rise of populist parties in struggling euro-zone countries, scenarios of new European conflicts seem less remote every day. Still, the prize is for past achievements, as Jagland made clear:

The fall of the Berlin Wall made E.U. membership possible for several Central and Eastern European countries, thereby opening a new era in European history. The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically based national conflicts have been settled.

The admission of Croatia as a member next year, the opening of membership negotiations with Montenegro and the granting of candidate status to Serbia all strengthen the process of reconciliation in the Balkans.

That assessment overlooks the E.U.’s minimal role in resolving the hostilities that the process of reconciliation is meant to address. It failed to prevent war in Bosnia, the region’s one major conflict since the E.U. was founded, could not stop that war and had little impact on its outcome.

(PHOTOS: 20 Years Later: The Bosnian Conflict in Photographs)

Here’s another amusing fact: until a few years ago, a majority of Europeans would have welcomed the prize. But opinion surveys in the 27 member countries show support for the union eroding. European Parliament President Martin Schulz did find succor in a Eurobarometer survey, released in September, that showed 40% of respondents in favor of the E.U., vs. just 31% in 2011. Schulz called that result “encouraging” — not the most apt response to evidence that substantially less than half of the E.U.’s citizens are happy about it, a decline of 12 points since 2007. In those halcyon days, 69% of Europeans also declared themselves “very or fairly optimistic” about the future of the union.

European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso greeted news of the award with enthusiasm. It “is justified recognition for a unique project that works for the benefit of its citizens and also for the world,” he said. He didn’t look as if he was gritting his teeth. Yet as previous Peace Prize winners could tell him (take a bow, Barack Obama), the funniest thing of all about the Nobel Peace Prize is its ability to create division and draw fire on its recipients. Once again, the Nobel committee has excelled itself.

MORE: Nobel Women: The 2011 Peace Prize Goes to Three Fighting for Their Rights

71 comments
BjornSky
BjornSky

The nobel awards are a fraud!...they are totally controlled by the 'zionist establishment'

FredrikS.Heffermehl
FredrikS.Heffermehl

The Nobel peace award draws attention, it is commented upon and covered in media all over the world - but the first and most important point is almost always missing in reports, discussions, comments: Nobel himself and what he wished to achieve with his prize . 

Establishing his "prize for the champions of peace" Nobel´s express intention, developed in detail in his testament, was to support the peace movement working for a demilitarization of international affairs (http://www.nobelwill.org). The EU prize was another violation of the testament, particularly grave in the face of my book in 2010 laying out the law and the purpose. The EU prize also clearly violated an order of March 21, 2012, where the Swedish Foundations Authority requested respect for the will of Nobel as expressed in his testament. The  Authority further expected the Swedish Nobel Foundation to re-check the purpose Nobel had in mind and take full responsibility for the legitimacy of the prize decisions of its Norwegian sub-Committee.

patelanjali
patelanjali

Europe

was already peaceful and prosperous before both world wars. The

post-WWII stability was a product of the Cold War, which reduced

intra-European rivalries. So by your WWII-based logic, Stalin should get

the award

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.

mladenm
mladenm

Obama's Peace Prize was even bigger joke. "Premature" was common opinion. But then came Afghanistan... and Libya.

erromy
erromy

I think it was a good nomination.  The European Union was created in part because of the two world wars, and the centuries of wars European countries had conducted between themselves.  And it worked.  There were no wars among the member countries since the EU was formed.  Yugoslavia was not a member country, but the willingness of the EU to accept former Yugoslavian countries into the EU helped stabilize them and did a lot to prevent them from sliding into continuing chaos.

AlexVallas
AlexVallas

In my opinion, the top candidates should be Bill and Melinda Gates. They have saved thousands of lives and are helping the poor in numerous countries throughout the world. They are non-political, humble and most worthy. They have donated billions without prejudice. They are a great example for all the super rich to emulate.

dakinsky
dakinsky

These Eurocrats really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Van Rompoy the damp rag. Kapo Schulz. Child molester and author of the book "The Big Bazar" (1975) Cohn Bendit. The whole EU commission, terrorists. The guys that foisted the Lisbon treaty upon the European peoples. It legalizes the death sentence in case of "riot, uprising", threat of war or desertion. What an outstanding merit it is  to install a socialist executivist dictatorship in Europe bringing the world new order.

The Nobel Prize Committee obviously is being carried away with its cynicism.

P.S.: Never buy a used car nor cigarettes from a member of the European Commission.

MarkmBha
MarkmBha

It is a PEACE PRIZE !

What has the EU done for PEACE around the world?

TheGizmo51
TheGizmo51

You mean to tell me entities should be rewarded for not going to war?   I just wish evolution weren't so slow.

Martin Brooks
Martin Brooks

Nobel Peace Prize for

Europe?..... That’s a bit like giving the school arsonist a merit award for not

burning down the school this year.

It’s not even a new idea.  When the West  were afraid of war in the late 1930’s, they made

Hitler “Time Magazine Man of the Year”.  How

did that turn out?

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

This thing has been a joke since they gave it to Arafat

Neejan
Neejan

The European Union did not create peace at all, it preserved the peace in Europe thanks to larger organisations such as the UN and NATO. However the Marshall Plan also stimulated the European economy after World War 2 and ultimately the old European leaders realized that through industrial cooperation they had a method in maintaining the peace.

The US military did not bring peace to Europe. It only desired to contain Europe from the Soviets at the dawn of the Cold War. On the other hand, indirectly, it gave the European leaders something to lean on in the difficult times to come.

Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU indeed sounds ridiculous, but I believe it's a statement of hope and trust. And as a European citizen, I'm proud to be part of that. But I also can imagine that a lot of Americans, supported by Time, feel degraded. After all, it is America that brings democracy (and peace), right?

Dan Boya
Dan Boya

They are chaffing and bantering!!   Unquestionably the succeeding year will be the UN!! 

Dan Boya
Dan Boya

Really convulsing and inducing apathy in those who are struggling to assure the sincere, solemn and earnest  peace in our planet. We should be creditworthy for the amelioration of the world despite we do have the right to opt  to do whatsoever we like. It is utterly inconceivable to honor the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU. It is apparent that the world strife with the decision of the Nobel Committee because it disregards  with some disdain the rest of the world. We accord that EU is a snagging  developed region next to the USA, but it is a great gullibility to award the prize for them. Instead the award should have been given to ..... What the hell are doing the Scandinavian countries?

MagnusHaland
MagnusHaland

I am from Norway myself and this award shames us all, 99% of Norwegians hate that comity and would rather see Sweden take it back then to let it continue to shame us like it is doing every time it is given the past few years... PLEASE GD SWEDEN DO SOMETHING!!!

rory2012
rory2012

The selective panel had no choice this year since the Chinese blind lawyer didn't stay in China long enough and he moved to US too soon otherwise he would be the winner for sure. Since the Noble Peace Prize try to award every dissidents in China every year,it become a joke,meaningless and worthless.So people like Obama and Answar Sadat deserved the prize.Op I forgot to mention the US rifle associate group deserved more than anybody.

Trond Johannessen
Trond Johannessen

At least we know that the Jesters at Time will never qualify, going in the opposite direction, and stoking division.

Nahid
Nahid

 

a hat

Christopher replied I didn't even know that people able to earn $4722 in one

month on the computer. did you look at this link

http://bit.ly/O5Wvyi

Danyz
Danyz

Well, a controversial choice, yes, but one whose motivation makes it at least understandable. At a time when rabid nationalist factions are eroding the foundations of the EU, the receipt of this prize may be meant as a pat on the back and a whispered "Don't give up." To give up means to give in to some very unsavory parties and movements that appear to thrive of animosity and division. One is tempted to conclude that nationalism, at least in it's most extreme permutations, is little more than glorified tribalism, as some of the shrill objections to this award illustrate.  

funnyboy911
funnyboy911

the nobel is worthless now because obama and some chinese clown got it "because they are the champion of peace", yeah right.

nancy
nancy

 They gave it to Obama in 2009.  That proved it was a worthless badge.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Irony, Sarcasm and even Hypocrisy.

Not things you normally equate with Nobel Prizes.

Compromising the stature of the Nobel Peace Prize to this degree is disgusting.

I believe they have done irreparable harm to the importance people will give to future Nobel prizes.

AlCelestial
AlCelestial

It is a Vietnam style victory for EU.

It is a sign that they are going to fold. 

T Marq
T Marq

I wonder what the exchange rate offer was for the EU to receive this award? By the way, where's Norway anyway. Is that some country? I thought it was an unoccupied landmass that never appears in providing any lives for the sake democracy battle for freedom around the world.

 

mountainnative
mountainnative

60 years of prosperity and peace were brought to Europe first by the United States of America and NATO. Every veteran who served on the Allied side in World War II should be honored with the peace prize before the EU gets it.

ProfessorPolecat
ProfessorPolecat

What a joke. The nobel prize is a joke. I mean look at when the president recieved his. Even HE knew it was a joke. Whatever the Nobel used to mean, it no longer represents that or deserves the respect it once had.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The Nobel committee knew that the E.U. needed the prize money.

S J Samuel
S J Samuel

The Nobel Prize in the peace category is a bit of a joke, they should do away with the nonsense and pomp as early as possible. Either the committee is ill-equipped or has some airy-fairy principle that is not easily understandable -- possibly a combination of both. Kissinger, Obama, quite a few others, and now the EU are some of those selections that defy belief. One would not be surprised if at some point Blair gets it too.

And as for those choices that were appreciated (Mandela, Suu Kyi, and others): it really did not matter to these great men and women or in real terms help in their cause. One gets the feeling that it was their innate sense of decency that made a Mandela or Suu Kyi accept the award and that this acceptance was a feather in the cap for the Nobel committee. A bit like tenth-grader giving a citation to a person who’s finished his doctorate!

Markus
Markus

The Nobel comitee did not honour the Euro Zone, nor the Schengen area. It honoured the European Union that brought more then 60 years of prosperity and peace to Europe. Is it perfect? NO! Is the EURO ZONE (!) struggeling right now? YES. But we will overcome it. Because the idea of the Union will survive. And that was honoured.

The EU is a work in progress. But nothing wrong with that. The results so far are pretty great.

Over 27 (!!!!!!!!) different nations with a different social, historical, economical, political and cultural background came together. That never happened in the history of mankind before.

I think it is sad that so many Americans whine about the prize. For 2000 years, European nations slaughtered themselves. Since the formation of the Coal Union between Germany and France (which became the EU) in the early 1950s not a single war was fought on northern and western European soil. Not a single war on Eastern European soil since almost 20 years (when the European integration started there). In my book, that is a pretty HUGE achievement.

I am German. I do not have to fight against my French or British friends anymore. Instead of running around with a rifle, I can use my time and talent for other things. I can invest it in sciences, economics or art. I can live freely in peace. I do not have to live in fear. I am not surrounded by enemies. I can get in touch with other people and cultures in Europe. I can study and work in the Netherlands or Denmark or Italy. I can learn different languages, understand other cultures. That's awesome. I could never ever imagine to go to war against any of my my European friends.

Today, I am really proud to be a citizen of the European Union. For the first time, I honestly feel European. Danke schön, Nobel comitee.

Mike X
Mike X

Could not agree with you more!

Danyz
Danyz

Well, they can be forgiven for that. The simple fact that he prevented a neocon controlled GOP from continuing its war crazed rampage made him the world's number one peace maker at the time.  

S J Samuel
S J Samuel

Well, you can have a grouse but not for the fact that the Norwegians have not provided fodder for the neocon democracy battle for freedom -- the battle isn't about democracy and freedom, but about oil and markets.

jambouburgess
jambouburgess

the US (warmongers) will never ever win the noble peace prize. I see a lot jalousy in the comments

beaverorduck
beaverorduck

The Europeans couldn't bring peace and prosperity to the continent - it took US intervention and generosity.  It also took the US's example of showing that it could be done.  Of course, the US would never in a million years win the peace prize.

AgeRomance. c om
AgeRomance. c om

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StevenRBGermany
StevenRBGermany

You are a typical naive German. Weak and "non"-violent. Perfectly brainwashed by the US.

You do not really look dangerous, if that is your picture-portrait. Harmless. Not like a German used to. But still, you think there is no war out there? How naive. Go to England and say that you are  a German, you still get bashed out of the Pub.

But one other commentator was right, if for "kind of peace" or more control in Europe, it was the plan of the USA, hey should get the prize, to have a bit more peace with these continental Europeans and concentrate on other war fields, to spread out their power.

-

P.S: And free art or science you are  not allowed as a German. Anything to "beautiful" would be Nazi and forbidden.

And if you would act like a man in other countries, so real "Konkurrenz" competition,you would get problems. You just play the nice guy. #everybodys Darling. Everybodys Fool.

StevenRBGermany
StevenRBGermany

You are a typical naive German. Weak and "non"-violent. Perfectly brainwashed by the US.

You do not really look dangerous, if that is your picture-portrait. Harmless. Not like a German used to. But still, you think there is no war out there? How naive. Go to England and say that you are  a German, you still get bashed out of the Pub.

But one other commentator was right, if for "kind of peace" or more control in Europe, it was the plan of the USA, hey should get the prize, to have a bit more peace with these continental Europeans and concentrate on other war fields, to spread out their power.

-

P.S: And free art or science you are  not allowed as a German. Anything to "beautiful" would be Nazi and forbidden.

And if you would act like a man in other countries, so real "Konkurrenz" competition,you would get problems. You just play the nice guy. #everybodys Darling. Everybodys Fool.

StevenRBGermany
StevenRBGermany

You are a typical naive German. Weak and "non"-violent. Perfectly brainwashed by the US.

You do not really look dangerous, if that is your picture-portrait. Harmless. Not like a German used to. But still, you think there is no war out there? How naive. Go to England and say that you are  a German, you still get bashed out of the Pub.

But one other commentator was right, if for "kind of peace" or more control in Europe, it was the plan of the USA, hey should get the prize, to have a bit more peace with these continental Europeans and concentrate on other war fields, to spread out their power.

-

P.S: And free art or science you are  not allowed as a German. Anything to "beautiful" would be Nazi and forbidden.

And if you would act like a man in other countries, so real "Konkurrenz" competition,you would get problems. You just play the nice guy. #everybodys Darling. Everybodys Fool.

ordonius
ordonius

@MarkusHaage:disqus  There is no equality in Europe. I have actually lived in the USA, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands and now Germany, my family has an adventurous background way before "Schengen", even I moved through the world and my old passport is riddled with stamps. I learned English, Portuguese, Spanish and French well before I could travel Europe without a Passport. I am half Portuguese, half Spanish with Brazilian and Phillipino grandparents. Talk to me about equal rights? Don't joke me around. The Germans still are one of the most Xenophobic people I have met, along with the Dutch, and sadly I can say the same about the Spanish. E.U. is a Keynesian mask for the few to amass more and more, it's not a peace building institution, but an economical monster that was made to enrich the pockets of the few. 

Wars have stopped because the bankers have realized there is more money in enslaving the population then slaughtering and financing wars.

I'm so sorry you are so blind.

ProfessorPolecat
ProfessorPolecat

That little 14 year old pakistani girl, fighting for her life, and who was up for a nobel peace prize, should have gotten it over the euro union. You defend this madness?

Mike P
Mike P

Americans do not "whine" about the Peace Prize as much as they celebrate the Chemistry and Physics Prizes

Hoop
Hoop

 It was the US military that brought peace and prosperity to Europe.

Mike X
Mike X

jambou--U.S war monger is the reason why you Europeans have your peace right now.  I forgot, but wasn't it the war mongering nature of European that brought massive global destruction?  Remember Hitler?  Remember Stalin?  Remember Lenin?  Remember Naplean?  Do you want me to keep reminding of your European Warmongers? 

Thank you for utter jealousy of U.S power.  I am not an American but I certainly do respect them.  They have made mistakes but if people like love to throw out those mistakes and make a stupid conclusion out of it, I must point out that your background or people are not too innocent. 

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Maybe not. We just win the peace.

erromy
erromy

 What happened to Mallala happened way too late for the Nobel prizes.  Nominations have to be in months before the announcement, so this is not a fair expectation.

Dave
Dave

14 year olds protest everything. They protest their parents and their protest the government. One only becomes a famous martyr when a criminal kills them but it doesn't mean they were some amazing peace-inspiring individual

ProfessorPolecat
ProfessorPolecat

It's true though. Whomever is doing the peace portion of prize delegation should be fired for being a moron. If it's the same people deciding the science portion as well then they need better requirements and new judges.

jambouburgess
jambouburgess

the only reason the US came to Europe is because they  knew that hitler would have come to the US if he wasn t stop in Europe...

Dave
Dave

Europe was already peaceful and prosperous before both world wars. The post-WWII stability was a product of the Cold War, which reduced intra-European rivalries. So by your WWII-based logic, Stalin should get the award

Markus
Markus

That is not true. First of all, it was an Alliance called the Allies. The main Allies were the British Empire (including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and so on...), Free France (small but significant) and of course the Soviet Union which sacrified at least 21 million people to win the war in the European theatre alone (compared 184.000 US-soldiers in Europe).

Now, no one is denying that NATO (most memebers are European btw - Germany is the second biggest NATO contributer) and the USA, as a non-European nation, did a lot to preserve peace in Europe. And there are numberous monuments honoring the US sacrifice. But the main social, economical, cultural and political work was done by the Coal Union between France and Germany, which later became the European Union.

ProfessorPolecat
ProfessorPolecat

I was never suggesting she should get it for her injury it was for all her work before that. Her injuries just solidify het commitment to freedom in the face of death.

ProfessorPolecat
ProfessorPolecat

It's sad you don't know who she is. She's an advocate for children and education in a place where teaching young girls is forbidden. Your ignorance seems to be keeping you from actually reading the article.

Nooshin Farrokhi
Nooshin Farrokhi

You might want to read this before make a comment. http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_... young Pakistani activist made a name for herself when she began blogging about life under the Taliban for BBC Urdu at age 11. The Pakistan government awarded her its first National Youth Peace Prize last year.

DevilInPgh
DevilInPgh

They're not the same people.  The science prizes are awarded by Swedish academies in Stockholm, while the "Peace Prize" is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.

Blue-eyed Gal
Blue-eyed Gal

Peaceful and prosperous before both World Wars?

So I guess the Great Famine, the Crimean War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Balkan Wars and the Boer Wars plus all this stuff -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/g... -- never happened, right? 

ordonius
ordonius

You N00B... The Coal Union was sponsored heavily and instigated thoroughly by the Rothschilds... They made enormous amounts of money with economical trades by exchanging currencies to make the same possible. The same Rothschilds who made the French-German, and the English-French wars possible by moving gold around the world, exchanging in local currencies to allow for supply chains, demanding 2% to 6% all the way. The bankers later realized that they could make a lot more by taxing a myriad of smaller exchanges, but that meant to keep the population working and not fighting. Geezuz Christ... You Germans need to unban certain books.

Go look for the Story of the Rothschilds, and check out the letters between the family, to be fair the ones that can still be found online.

More proof? Niall Ferguson, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N...

Give up your academically built and manipulated knowledge and gain some human wisdom.

Mike P
Mike P

 West Germany did re-pay its debt but at least it was reduced by 50% to ease that burden. How was a profit made?

Markus
Markus

@ MikeP: Germany paid every cent back of the Marshall Plan. And the US made  a profit. The Marshall Plan guaranted a new market for US companies in Western Europe.

Mike P
Mike P

you make no mention of the Marshall Plan. You must be a youngster,raised on a steady diet of anti-Americanism from your media