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Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize: not always worthy

Al Gore has a Nobel prize now. Personally, I'm OK with that, since he has focused attention on a vital issue. But others disagree.

If you don't like Gore's win, consider other winners.

has a list of past winners.

There are a number of ones that, upon further thought, don't seem like such good ideas.

2002 Jimmy Carter: I admire his work on Habitat for Humanity, but on a diplomacy level has any of his stuff really stuck?

2001 Kofi Annan:
"U.N.-appointed panel investigating corruption in prewar Iraq's oil-for-food program delivered a scathing rebuke of Secretary General Kofi Annan's management of the largest U.N. humanitarian aid operation and concluded that Kojo Annan took advantage of his father's position to profit from the system."

1994: Yasser Arafat

1973: Henry Kissinger (obviously no Cambodians picking the winner)

1957: After not giving the prize out in 1955 and 1956, it was given to Lester Pearson.
Lester seems like an OK guy, but even in his link page http://almaz.com/nobel/peace/1957a.html there's not a lot that says "Nobel". What am I missing here?

1939-1943 No prize given. No mystery why.

1931: Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, promoter of the Briand-Kellogg Pact "providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy." Didn't work out so well. Was signed by (among others) France, Germany, Japan, Italy, US, UK, Russia. (i.e. all the major combatants in WW2 signed it). What did Butler do to move this pact forward? Undoubtedly it seemed important at the time, but the Wikipedia entry on the Kellogg-Briand pact doesn't even mention him. Butler also persuaded Carnegie to endow the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

1929: Frank Billings Kellogg, negotiated the Briand-Kellogg pact. See above.

1919 Woodrow Wilson. In school I learned Wilson was a great president. I'm not so sure about that, Ultimately, he was unsuccessful with the League of Nations and in ending WWI cleanly -- enough mess left over there to lead to WW2. Plus, Wilson was clearly a racist and implemented racist policies. At least two prizes (to Martin Luther King and to Mandela & de Klerck) have been given for work against racism, so I think you have to ding Wilson pretty hard for this one.