Kicking Around a Peace Prize
by Walter Brasch

February 24, 2004

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The wire services distributed it.
The news media published it.
Even Netscape put it on its front page.
George W. Bush was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Yes, that George W. Bush.

The same one who, with a gaggle of senior advisors, rammed the USA Patriot Act into our stomachs and claimed it protected our civil liberties and national security, although it violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.

The president who not only destroyed a fragile truce between the United States and North Korea, but alienated Canada, France, Germany, and half the world as well.

The commander-in-chief who sent more than 200,000 Americans into harm’s way to destroy both non-existent weapons of mass destruction and a nation that was at the birthplace of civilization. The commander-in-chief who donned a flight suit and landed on an aircraft carrier to proclaim “Mission Accomplished.” The commander-in-chief under whose command more than 500 Americans and several thousand Iraqis, most of them civilian, have died; and more than 2,500 Americans and several thousand more Iraqis have been wounded, some with permanent and debilitating injuries. The commander-in-chief who proudly proclaims himself to be a war-time president, whose own vice-president told the Washington Post that warfare under Bush “may never end.”

That George W. Bush.

The requirements to win a Nobel Peace Prize include that the recipient “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or  reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize can come from thousands of individuals, including any member of a nation’s legislature, past Nobel laureates, and university professors. This year, 129 individuals and 44 organizations were nominated. The Nobel committee doesn’t announce names for 50 years, but those who nominate individuals or the individuals themselves often let the news media know. Jan Simonsen, a right-wing member of the Norwegian parliament, nominated Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair “for having dared to take the necessary decision to launch a war on Iraq without having the support of the UN.” That statement alone should disqualify Bush from any consideration.

Fortunately, the Norwegian parliament, which selects the five members of the committee, has strongly opposed American war policies. Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute, said that when the Nobel committee rightly awarded a Peace Prize to former president Jimmy Carter, it was “a kick in the legs” to Bush’s war policies. Geir Lundestad, the Committee’s secretary, says he has received thousands of e-mails and letters opposing Bush’s nomination.

In her acceptance speech in December, upon winning last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi, a judge who had been imprisoned by Iran for her vigorous defense of children’s and women’s rights, boldly stated, “In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of 11 September and the war on international terrorism as a pretext.” Elaborating, but not specifically identifying Bush, she vigorously noted that “Regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms . . . have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism.”

To American presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter; to statesmen and diplomats Ralph Bunche, Elihu Root, and Cordell Hull; to social workers Jane Addams and Emily Balch; to Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandella, Mother Teresa, and Red Cross founder Jean Henry Dunant, who earned the honor, this nomination is an insult. But, it is certainly in line with the nomination in 2001 that the sport of soccer be given a Nobel Peace Prize.

Walter Brasch is most recently author of  Sex and the Single Beer Can, a witty and incisive look at American media and culture. You may contact Dr. Brasch through www.walterbrasch.com or at brasch@bloomu.edu.







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