The Magazine

A Dynamite Prize

The Nobel Prize for peace that passeth understanding.

Oct 26, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 06 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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Ralph Bunche (1950) attempted to soothe the hard feelings between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Thanks "a Bunche," Ralph. Lester Pearson (1957) tried to end the Suez conflict (though it was Dwight Eisenhower--no prize--who ended it). Dag Hammarskjold (1961) brought lasting harmony to the Congo or surely would have if his plane hadn't crashed. Kim Dae-jung (2000) created the concord and amity with North Korea that we enjoy today. Kofi Annan (2001) left us with--I quote the prize committee--"a better organized and more peaceful world." And there's no end to the good that Jimmy Carter (2002) did--for Republicans.

Some peace prize winners experienced precious little peace at the time of their winning: Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983), Desmond Tutu (1984), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991).

Of course, if you go around giving prizes left and right (mostly left) for more than a century, you're bound to give some to worthy people once in a while. With the Nobel committee this usually involves the Red Cross (1901, 1917, 1944, 1963). But the Red Cross doesn't bring peace, it brings bandages. Then there are such estimable folks as Albert Schweitzer (1952), Mother Teresa (1979), Elie Wiesel (1986), and micro-credit banker Muhammad Yunus (2006). I'm glad they had a payday. I'm a fan of their work. But, huh?

Lately the peace prize committee is just messing with our heads. They honored Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, by which time India, Pakistan, Iran, and hence every cab driver in New York had the bomb. In 2008 they gave the prize to "Martti Ahtisaari," supposedly a former president of Finland, "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts." They're pulling that out of their boxer shorts. And let's not mention Al Gore (2007) except to note that Abraham Lincoln did not urge us, in his Second Inaugural Address, to "achieve and cherish a just and lasting cap on carbon emissions among ourselves and with all nations."

Speaking of justice, where in the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners are the men and women of Lincoln's mettle, who brought just and lasting peace to whole continents? Where is Winston Churchill? Franklin Roosevelt? Harry Truman? Margaret Thatcher? Ronald Reagan? Instead what we get is Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) and Barack Obama.

Paddy walks into the bar and shouts, "Drinks all around! Me wife's next in line for the Nobel Peace Prize!"

"Paddy," says the barkeep, "Yer wife's been in a coma since January."

"Ah!" says Paddy, "Isn't peace grand!"

P. J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.