Could Donald Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize?
Many voices are calling for it, following the historic de-escalation on the Korean peninsula. Many credit Donald Trump for his role in the process.
For the first time, a North Korean leader set foot in the South. Kim Jong-un and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, met, smiled, shook hands, joked around.
In the end, the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and of the Republic of Korea agreed to work on removing all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. Further, they also agreed to pursue talks with the United States and possibly China to sign a peace treaty and declare an official end to the Korean War. The war, which raged from 1950 to 1953, is still not officially over. Just last year, shots were fired in the Korean Demilitarized Zone – a 250 km long, 4 km wide buffer zone between the two countries.
“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” read a joint statement signed by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in.
South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha stated that she believed President Trump is largely responsible for bringing Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table: “Clearly, credit goes to President Trump,” Kang told CNN. “He’s been determined to come to grips with this from day one.”
But nominating Donald Trump is counter-intuitive.
Last year, his initial reactions to further nuclear threats from North Korea were not peaceful or pacifist, to say the least: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump stated last August. “They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen.” Achieving peace by being tougher than the other? Maybe there is method to the madness? Trump himself will meet with Kim Jong-un in the coming days, although Trump was musing about the meeting not happening just yesterday.
Leaving aside the fact that someone, using a stolen identity, forged nominations in support of the American president to be handed the award, Henrik Urdal, manager of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said a month ago that the recommendation to award Mr Trump the honour “still lacks a strong academic justification”. Does it?
Probably not. But the Nobel Prize Committee is facing a credibility problem and an incredible dilema.
Geir Lundestad, the former committee secretary, recently expressed regrets in awarding the Peace prize to Barack Obama. At the time, the decision was met with criticism: President Obama had not been in office for a year yet and had achieved very little on the international stage. The committee rewarded “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Closer to the truth, the committee, like many others in the US and around the world, had high hopes in Obama and was hoping to strengthen his position on the world stage. It didn’t work.
There were never any such hopes for Donald Trump. Trump is everything that Obama was not. He is brash, abrasive, sexist, unpredictable. He obviously lies, makes no apology and demonize his opponents with enthusiasm. Trump is intensely disliked by much of the world press and public opinion, his approval ratings fell quicker after the election than any other US president before him.
The man is despised by conservatives and hated by progressives. Conservative politicians are regularly attacked as being Trump-like or Trump-light. Celebrities who express any kind of support for the man, like Shania Twain, quickly have to backtrack, for fear of losing fans – and tickets’ sale. Just dressing up like President Trump for Halloween created a storm for Connor McDavid.
One can only imagine the furor the Nobel Prize Committee would bring upon itself if it were to award the Peace Prize to Donald Trump. And while looking at what Trump has achieved in contrast to Obama could be tempting, it is unlikely to be a criteria. Awarding it to another American president is probably not that appealing to start with.
Come October, the safer and wiser course of action for the Nobel Prize Committee would be to give the award to Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. If they stay on track.