Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

According to Alfred Nobel's will, an award was to be given to whoever "during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." What are we to conclude about the 2008 work offered as justification for this year's Nobel Peace Prize?

To my recollection I have never pointed to Le Duc Tho, the Vietnamese general, politician, and diplomat, as an exemplar of honor and judgment. Yet I must acknowledge that Le Duc Tho behaved justly in declining the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that actual peace had not been established in Vietnam. This is an example that warrants consideration.

The present situation is like a marathon runner being handed the trophy after the first mile and being told by the officials, "You are a most excellent runner. We admire your relaxed and powerful stride. You clearly are in splendid shape and no doubt capable of setting a record time in this event."

The only honorable response is to respectfully decline this unearned award.