If the Nobel Peace Prize wants to save its reputation, considering Vladimir Putin for the usually prestigious award is another step in the wrong direction. While Putin is in the running to be named a “champion of peace,” he is trying to forcibly annex Crimea, an autonomous republic in Ukraine.
Putin is resisting all warnings from the international community, acting purely in Russia’s self-interest. According to Peace Research Institute Oslo, the Russian leader was nominated for the “averting of an air strike on Syria after the chemical gas attacks in August 2013.”
Because, after all, Putin brokered a tough deal with Syria to reduce chemical weapons, making the world safe once again. It sounds plausible, except for the fact that Syria has only reduced 10 percent of the chemical weapons that were supposed to be destroyed by early February. One can imagine Putin isn’t putting too much pressure on a major Russian ally.
This isn’t the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has been heavily criticized. Last year, the winner was the European Union. No, not a leader of the EU — the entire 17-country organization itself. At the time, unemployment was more than 25 percent in some EU countries, and the union itself was in a state of political turmoil.
Ironically, as millions of their own citizens were rioting in the streets due to the disastrous European financial crisis, EU leaders were busy bickering about who got to accept a prize lauding their achievements of peace.
Or think back to 2007. Irena Sendler was reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Sendler, a Polish social worker, risked her life every day to smuggle Jews out of the Nazi-controlled Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “She and her friends smuggled the children out in boxes, suitcases, sacks and coffins, sedating babies to quiet their cries.” She is believed to have rescued more 3,000 people.
Though she was captured and brutally tortured by the Nazis several times, she never revealed her mission.
So why didn’t Sendler win the prize in 2007? A PowerPoint on global warming convinced the committee that former vice president Al Gore had done more to fight for peace. The $1 million in prize money he received was pocket change for the man worth more than $200 million already.
In 2009, just a few months after President Barack Obama took office, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting,” said the Norwegian Nobel Committee at the time. Right.
There are several superbly qualified candidates in the running this year. Let’s hope the commission awards the Nobel Peace Prize to someone worthy, rather than repeating some of the mistakes of the past.
Danny Huizinga is a junior Business Fellow from Chicago. He is a guest columnist for The Lariat. Follow him @HuizingaDanny on Twitter.