And the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize goes to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who languishes in a Siberian jail for crossing Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin. It goes to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was severely beaten by Robert Mugabe’s thugs in Zimbabwe. It goes to Cuban political prisoners (both known and unknown), and millions of North Koreans enslaved in that country’s labor camps.
The esteemed members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee have awarded the 2012 prize to the European Union. So, if you thought that awarding it to President Barack Obama for the sole reason of not being George W. Bush was strange and unusual, think again. (By the way, I have nothing against our president. I am sure he was just as embarrassed as everyone else.)
So, let us subject the reasons for this “great honor,” to quote the president of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, to my laser-like scrutiny.
According to the Committee, the EU got the Prize for “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” To be sure, trade liberalization and the breaking down of the national barriers to the movement of goods, services, people, and capital made Europe more prosperous and cooperative.
However, pan-European peace was primarily a result of Reich’s total defeat in World War II, occupation of large chunks of the old continent by Les Anglo-Saxons, and creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was NATO that turned the former mortal foes into allies in an effort to contain the spread of the communist cancer from Eastern Europe to the West.
When the Yugoslavs started slaughtering each other over bits and pieces of impoverished Balkan real estate, the EU had a real chance to promote peace. It did nothing of the sort. The greatest humanitarian disaster in Europe since Auschwitz ended only after the U.S. Air Force swooped over the hills surrounding Sarajevo and sent the Serbs packing.
So much for peace, then. As for democracy, the Peace Prize award to the EU drips with irony. The EU is not only un-democratic, in the sense that it is run by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, it is positively anti-democratic, in the sense that the democratically expressed wishes of the European peoples are either ignored or treated with contempt. When the Danes voted against the Maastricht Treaty, they were forced to vote again. When the Irish sunk the Lisbon treaty, they too had to repeat the vote. And when the Dutch and the French said no to the EU Constitution, they were simply ignored.
Here is how the president of the eurozone, Jean-Claude Juncker, sums up the decision-making process in the great bastion of democracy that is today’s EU: “We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”
I could write about the overgrown and arrogant bureaucracy in Brussels; about the monstrously high and recession-proof salaries of European decision makers; about widespread and widely tolerated corruption; about the prosecution and silencing of whistleblowers, and about many other ways in which the EU does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Suffice it to say that those have been widely documented and are available to anyone interested.
The truth is that the world is full of people doing heroic things every day. Just think of the “tank man” who stopped a column of the Chinese tanks in the Tiananmen Square in 1989. Or corruption fighters like John Githongo in Kenya and Nuhu Ribadu in Nigeria. These people are worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.
To give it to the EU is absurd. Then again, the current members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee would probably fail to recognize absurdity if it slapped them in the face and did a Macarena.