Oct. 12, 2012
All the breathless anticipation. All the excitement in the international media. It's almost as thrilling as the Oscars. And about as predictable. I'm talking about the annual Nobel Prize announcements. This year, the European Union copped the Peace Prize. Amazing.
That left-wing Nobel prize committees give awards to their fellow left-wing Eurocrats should hardly come as a surprise. But this year's Peace Prize is absurd.
During the earlier years of the European Union, the Soviet Union dominated half the continent. President Jerry Ford probably lost the 1976 election when he gaffed that "Eastern Europe is not under Soviet domination" in debate with Jimmy Carter. Ironically, it was Carter, the winner of that election, who managed to become even more supine in dealing with Soviets about their Eastern European empire. Not an easy task. Maybe that's why Carter got the Peace Prize earlier.
So, where was the European Union during this period of Soviet domination? Nowhere. The EUrocrats were afraid of making a peep that might upset the Eurocommunists in their home countries. They were also very afraid of the Red Brigades (Italy) the Baader-Meinhof Gang (W. Germany) and the Action Direct (France). These violent KGB-backed groups had kidnaped and murdered Italian Premier Aldo Moro and a number of West German bankers.
Better to talk about "peace" and not to upset the Soviet Bear. So, it was left to Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Polish Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa, and Margaret Thatcher of Britain to make the case for peace based on freedom for Eastern Europe. To be fair, the Nobel Peace Prize did go to Lech Walesa. But he would have been jailed and perhaps killed had it not been for the other leaders who backed up his cause with spiritual authority and economic and military power.
It was Ronald Reagan who did more for a European union in freedom than anyone in the EU secretariat in Brussels. It was also George H.W. Bush who patiently and, yes, prudently, managed the dissolution of the Evil Empire in Eastern Europe.
Does anyone think the Nobel Peace Prize might be given to them? Not likely.
Then, there was "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia. For an entire decade, peoples in the former Yugoslavia were at each others' throats, with atrocities on both sides. It was the worst outbreak of civil violence in Europe since the Second World War. For the period of the 1990s, the European Union watched the slaughter, and did nothing.
Only in 1999--at former Prime Minister Thatcher's urgent appeal--did President Bill Clinton intervene with NATO airstrikes on the Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic's military. It was a fairly surgical procedure that ended Milosevic's misrule.
Again, this year's Peace Prize winner, the EU, was powerless to effect any amelioration in those bloody ethnic struggles.
The European Union has distinguished itself by giving the world a debt crisis. Germany's Angela Merkel has to race to Athens to shore up the wobbly Greek government's attempts to avoid defaulting on its debt--and dragging other EU members down with it.
Does anyone propose Chancellor Merkel for a Peace Prize? No. Better to stroke the Eurocrats who fathered this crisis.
There is some justice in the Peace Prize awards, however. In this year's presidential campaign, no one is touting President Obama's Peace Prize. When it was announced in 2009--42 days into his term--there was literally a stunned reaction in Oslo. Even those politically correct legions could hardly believe that the once-prestigious prize had been bestowed on a leader for his peaceful intentions. Now, after three years in office, his campaign surrogates are on the hustings bragging about his decision to kill Osama bin Laden. When we consider what bin Laden tried to do in the world, making war on all of civilization, Mr. Obama probably earned his Peace Prize after the fact. Somehow, I doubt any of the Nobel committee members would agree.