First Posted 18 Oct. '02
If you want to put Jimmy Carter's (Barack Obama's) Nobel Peace Prize in its proper perspective, and to see how little the Nobel committee has learned in the last seventy years, go back to the 1930s and see who was winning the Peace prizes while Hitler was preparing to conquer Europe. The 1937 Nobel Prize went to a British nobleman named Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil), who was president of the International Peace Campaign, and earlier helped found the League of Nations. Even then, The Nobel Committee was still singing the same refrains of disarmament, moral equivalence and aimless diplomacy.
The Committee explained the goals of the International Peace Campaign:
international disarmament and «establishment within the framework of the League of Nations of effective machinery for remedying international conditions which might lead to war»
The Peace Campaign apparently didn't do a lot to stop Hitler or Tojo, but not because the pacifists weren't optimistic enough.Cecil gave his acceptance lecture on June 1, 1938, just a few months after the Anschluss, and showed us why he was the Jimmy Carter of his day, or maybe it's the other way around:
I am still convinced that with a little more courage and foresight, particularly among those who were directing the policy of the so-called Great Powers, we might have achieved a limitation of international armaments, with all the enormously beneficial consequences which that would have given us....And I am perfectly satisfied that the attempt to limit and reduce armaments by international action must be resumed and the sooner the better, if the world is to be saved from a fresh and bloody disaster.
But Hitler was happily on a roll, what conceivable incentive did he have to disarm? Cecil had a momentary glimpse into the abyss of reality:
The Italian invasion of Abyssinia ... was, perhaps, even more indefensible internationally than the invasion of China by Japan, and unhappily it was equally successful. Here, there was no excuse for the peace-loving powers. They had unquestionably the strength and the opportunity to have stopped that defiance of the principles of the supremacy of law in international affairs, and they declined to use them.
But the realism quickly fades and he's back to wishful thinking and a call for unspecific diplomacy
Let us, rather, examine where we now stand and what steps we ought to take in order to strengthen the international system and thrust back again the forces of reaction.
And even after the Nuremburg Laws he sees no difference between life under the Union Jack and life under the Swastika, because they are morally equivalent, and investing in defense of one's homeland is a waste of money:
The civil life of every nation is deformed and weakened and obstructed by this threat of war. We are wasting gigantic sums, sums far greater than we have ever wasted before, on preparations for war, because war has again become a very present possibility and, at the same time, its horrors and dangers are enormously greater than they were before 1914. And so the world is spending some three or four thousand million pounds sterling every year on preparations for what we all know will be, if it comes to pass, a tremendous danger to the whole of our civilization, whoever wins and whoever loses.
And then Cecil's stirring finale, which you have probably never read, because it was long ago stuffed into a plastic bag and left on the doorstep of the Goodwill store of history
The acceptance of the principle of international cooperation is of immense importance for all states....May Heaven grant that the statesmen of the world may realize this before it is too late and, by the exertion of the needed courage and prudence, restore again to the position of authority which it had only a few years ago, that great institution for the maintenance of peace on which the future of civilization so largely depends. I mean, of course, the League of Nations.
The Nobel Peace Prize of 1938 was awarded to the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which was needed to assist the victims of both Hitler and the failed policies of hollow diplomacy and moral equivalence of the International Peace Campaign. In 1940 Norway fell to the Nazis. The Peace Prize was not awarded again until 1944, when it went to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Oslo was liberated in 1945 by Allied peacemakers, using guns. The moral vacuum that is the Nobel Peace Prize inspired me to create the Sharkansky Peace Prize