Commentary

A Nobel Prize for Brinkmanship?

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Quote of the week:

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”

— Moshe Dayan

A bandwagon is underway urging the selection committee for the Nobel Peace Prize to make Donald Trump its newest Laureate. Some of the President’s harshest critics have joined Trump supporters on this bandwagon, with barely concealed ulterior motives. Hey, if Barack Obama can “earn” Nobel Laureate status by being a paragon of hope, reinforced by one paragraph of a speech at Prague embracing the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons, why not Trump, as well, for scaring the bejeezus out of Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in to go the extra mile to avoid a catastrophic war.

Sometimes even a bull in a china shop deserves kudos, and Trump gets mine in this instance. His bluster and instincts have helped set in motion a chain reaction of events making unlikely the prospects of a preventive U.S. war and pre-emptive strikes against North Korea — at least for now. Just a few months ago, this was a serious topic of right wing commentary. Now the war drums have been silenced. This will remain the case for as long as the leaders of North and South Korea maintain their pas de deux, regardless of Trump’s weather-vaning instincts.

If the Nobel selection committee sees fit to reinforce Korean efforts to reduce tensions while pursuing noble end states, it won’t be for the first time. In 1994, Nobels were awarded to Yasser Arafat as well as Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. In 1978, Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin were tapped. In 1973 Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were honored. These picks suggest that the Nobel selection committee, which focuses on effort rather than results, might indeed seek to reinforce the pairing of Kim and Moon – assuming they stay paired.

Notably missing in previous pairings are occupants of the White House who helped midwife negotiations between adversaries. Jimmy Carter didn’t receive his well-earned Nobel until 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Barack Obama’s premature award in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” will be earned in decades to come.

 

Continue reading at Arms Control Wonk

 

Michael Krepon is the Co-Founder of the Stimson Center.

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