Trump hasn’t earned a Nobel, but the Peshmerga have

Trump hasn’t earned a Nobel, but the Peshmerga have
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It started on April 28 when fans of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE at a Michigan rally began to chant, “Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!” Two days later, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize.” And then the next day, 18 Republican lawmakers actually nominated the president for his efforts to “end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and bring peace to the region.” There just might be something to this movement.  

But a Nobel for this American president in 2018 would be just as premature as the one awarded to another American president in 2009. Trump might yet deserve a Nobel prize, but the Kims have a history of signing deals only to renege on them.  

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2018, a year marked by the decline of ISIS, instead should go to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, nominated by Norwegian parliamentarian Himanshu Gulati, who rightly observed that, “The battle against IS deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.”


But just because the Peshmerga deserve the peace prize doesn’t mean they will get it. The committee in Oslo, Norway, that awards the prize has a somewhat checkered history — at times recognizing worthy recipients and at other times, dubious ones.   

Worthy recipients include those who achieved results at great personal or political risk. Some have been recognized alone, such as Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964 and Lech Walesa in 1983.  Others have been recognized jointly, usually from opposing sides of a conflict, such as 1978’s prize to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and 1993’s prize to South African president F.W. de Klerk and his one-time enemy Nelson Mandela.  

Sometimes a solo winner should have gotten only half the prize, as in 1990 when Mikhail Gorbachev got all the credit and the Nobel committee ignored Ronald Reagan’s part in ending the Soviet Union. But then, the Nobel committee seldom awards those who make peace through force (a negative for the Peshmerga).

Sometimes, in fact, the prize is awarded for an unsuccessful but important symbolic struggle, as in 1975 when Soviet dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov’s won as a prisoner of the USSR, and in 2014 when Malala Yousafzai won for grave injuries incurred while standing up to the Taliban.  

Of course, there have been unworthy nominees and winners. When several Swedish parliamentarians nominated the unworthy Neville Chamberlain in 1939, another nominated Adolf Hitler, apparently as a sarcastic gesture. Chamberlain did not win, and Hitler’s nomination was withdrawn.

Joseph Stalin was nominated in 1945 and 1948 but didn’t win. In 1953, Nikita Khrushchev revealed details about Stalin’s reign of terror inside the Soviet Union and the nominations ended.

Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian political leader, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. The Israelis deserved recognition for the giant leap of faith they took in the Oslo Accords, but Arafat deserves nothing for simply recognizing a win-win situation when he saw it.

Kofi Annan was head of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations during the Rwandan genocide and later secretary general during (and chief architect of) the U.N. Oil for Food Program, a massive money-laundering scheme. Annan and the United Nations received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly, a mere 31 days after 9/11, “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

In 2005 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its leader Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei won, ostensibly for restraining the Iranian nuclear program.  

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for waging a “non-violent struggle” against an oppressive regime. As head of a new government oppressing the Rohingya population, some have called for her award to be revoked.  

If any Nobel Peace Prize should be revoked, it has to be the one awarded in 2013 to the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). After Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s faint “red line in the sand” warning in 2013, the OPCW swooped in to save the day, reportedly by removing Assad’s poisonous gas stockpiles.

Averting a U.S.-Russia showdown necessitated a fiction that the Obama administration was all too happy to perpetuate. As then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice put it, “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”  Then-Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySeinfeld's Jason Alexander compares Trump dance video to iconic Elaine dance This time, for Democrats, Catholics matter President's job approval is surest sign Trump will lose reelection MORE likewise boasted, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.” Subsequent events have proved otherwise.

Ironically, former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung became a Nobel laureate in 2000, mostly for his failed “Sunshine Policy” — a series of Chamberlain-like appeasements aimed at improving relations with North Korea.  

If the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the naïve International Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), had really deserved the award, then no one would be discussing one for today’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

Jimmy Carter’s 2002 Nobel arguably came not for his peacekeeping efforts but for the ways he vocally rebuffed, at every opportunity, the policies and person of President George W. Bush.  Obama’s Nobel was awarded because he promised to be the opposite of Bush.

It’s entirely possible that 2018 will be one of the years remembered for its terrible choice.  Norwegian parliamentarian Bjornar Moxnes has nominated the anti-Semitic, Israel-hating BDS movement. But it could instead move in another direction by awarding the peace prize to the Peshmerga, who created peace through force. It could also jump the gun by giving the award to President Trump.  

A.J. Caschetta is a Ginsburg-Ingerman Fellow at the Philadelphia-based think tank Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where his focus has been the rhetoric of radical Islamists and Western academic narratives explaining Islamist terrorism.