Nobel Oblige

Men prize the thing ungain’d more than it is.

– Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for him.  It is so coveted, yet so elusive. And all his efforts to get it seem to be thwarted by events beyond his control.  As he observed at a rally in Toledo in January of this year, “I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize.  I’ll tell you about that.  I  made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country.  I said, “What, did I have something to do with it? Yeah but you know that’s all that matters. . . .I saved a big war.  I’ve saved a couple of them.”  In making those remarks the trump was thinking of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.  He is the youngest head of government in Africa having assumed office in April 2018.

Since becoming prime minister President Ahmed has inaugurated major liberalizing reforms, freed thousands of opposition activists from jail, and made it possible for exiled dissidents to return to the country.  In awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize the Nobel Committee said it was because of his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”  According to reports, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia played important roles in helping to resolve the border conflict. The trump had very little to do with it.  But that, of course, is not how the trump sees it, and, to make matters worse, it is not the end of the indignities which are dashing the trump’s Nobel Peace Prize hopes.

Another was achieving a durable and lasting peace with North Korea.  Using the negotiating skills of which the trump is so proud, Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea,   became the president’s new VERY best friend after the trump became president and the two men exchanged what the trump described as “love letters.”  That those letters and the deep personal friendship that were created between the ruler of a country in which millions of people are starving, and a man who is the least intelligent and least capable person to have ever sat behind the desk in the Oval Office, was astonishing and hard to believe.  But there it was. And it  brought a sigh of relief to those who had feared that at some point there might be a conflagration between North Korea and the United States. And there can be no denying that as soon as the peace treaty is signed, it will provide the impetus for the Nobel committee to consider awarding the Peace Prize to the trump and Kim.

The only thing is that the two best friends have had a bit of a spat, as sometimes happens with best friends, and to let his friend know how he feels about the spat, on November 28, 2019, Kim watched as two rockets were launched by a “super large multiple rocket launcher” from North Korea’s east coast. And to give further vent to his petulance, on March 2 and March 9 Kim launched multiples projectiles off its east coast.

It is hard to believe that after such a fervent friendship between the trump and Kim, the firing of a few rockets would end their friendship, but should that happen, that friendship will no longer be a path to the longed-for Nobel Peace Prize.

And then, of course, there’s Afghanistan.  Just a few days ago what looked like a sure route to the prize was announced when a U.S.-Taliban agreement was announced.  That agreement will, among other things,  reduce the level of violence in the country and lead to the eventual withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.  It is conditioned, however,  on many things, one of them being the “expeditious”release of 5000 insurgents held by the Afghan government.  That may be one of many sticking points, and hostilities have resumed, although at a reduced scale.  Nonetheless, unless the disputes are resolved, another possible route to the trump longed for Nobel Peace Prize will have been blocked.

And, as if those potential blocks to the trump’s receiving the longed-for prize, were not enough, another indignity was bestowed on trump by Time magazine.  Remember Greta Thunberg? She  is the 17-year-old environmental activist who spoke at the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland in January.  Trump told the Wall Street Journal that “I really don’t know anything about her.” What he might have known (and been bothered by), was that in December 2019 she received Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” award, the same award the trump got in 2016.  When the trump learned of her award, even though he knew nothing about her, he said that she “had an anger management problem.” (If there is one thing the trump is undeniably qualified to identify, it is people who have “anger management” problems.)  From the trump’s perspective, to have a 17-year old child receive the same award he received in 2016, not only lessens the value of the award, but is almost as bad as finding that the road to the Nobel Peace Prize seems to be blocked at every juncture.

The foregoing notwithstanding, it’s hard to feel sorry for the trump unless of course, he is not reelected president.  Then we can feel sorry for him and happy for the rest of the world and the country.