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A Grand Misjudgment

Gore’s Peace Prize

by JAN OBERG

Nagoya, Japan.

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize – particularly the part to Al Gore – is a populist choice that cannot but devalue the Prize itself.

Alfred Nobel wrote in his will that the Peace Prize should be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Without diminishing the importance of global warming and the work done by this year’s recipients – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) and Al Gore Jr. – it is highly disputable whether it qualifies as a PEACE prize in the spirit of Alfred Nobel – even if interpreted in the contemporary world situation and not that of 1895 when Nobel formulated his vision.

The concept and definition of peace should indeed be broad. But neither of the recipients have made contributions that can match thousands of other individuals and NGOs who devote their lives to fighting militarism, nuclearism, wars, reducing violence, work for peacebuilding, tolerance, reconciliation and co-existence – the core issues of the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is also regrettable that the Prize rewards government-related work, rather than civil society – Non-Governmentals, making the implicit point that governments rather than the people make peace.

In particular, Al Gore – as vice-president under Bill Clinton between 1993 and 2001 was never heard or seen as a peace-maker. Clinton-Gore had a crash program for building up US military facilities and made military allies all around Russia – and missed history’s greatest opportunity for a new world order.

In contravention of international law and without a UN Security Council mandate, they bombed Serbia and Kosovo, based on an extremely deficient understanding of Yugoslavia and propaganda about genocide that has caused the miserable situation called Kosovo today (likely to blow up this year or the next), and they bombed in Afghanistan and Sudan.

The Prize would have been linked to the environment if it has been awarded to someone who struggles against military or other violent influence on the global environment: military pollution, thousands of bases and exercises destroying nature, deliberate environmental warfare, militarization of space and the oceans, and – of course – nuclear weapons that, if used, would create more heat than global warming.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s consists of members who have little background, if any, in the theory and practise of peace. That however can not be an excuse for making a mockery of peace and the Prize itself.

The prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize has been further reduced today – adding to the disgrace that it never rewarded Gandhi but people like Kissinger, Shimon Peres, and Arafat.

JAN OBERG is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden.