The Norwegian committee that selects the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize have upset one or two people this year with their choice of the European Union (EU) as the recipient of the (supposedly) prestigious prize for 2012. The EU received the prize for its contribution to “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
In the run up to the announcement there was speculation in the press as to who would win. This wasn’t merely to fill space in newspapers and on broadcasts but an attempt to try and make the prize seem important to the majority of people who otherwise probably wouldn’t even notice that the prize-giving had taken place. Luke Harding on guardian.co.uk 12 October at 07.00 BST, named a host of possible winners and quoted the odds given to each of the candidates by bookmakers Paddy Power. His tips ranged from Gene Sharp (6-4 favourite) to outsider Julian Assange (16-1). For comic effect he gave the odds of some of the long-shots which included Facebook (33-1) and the EU (40-1)!
The selection has been praised (mainly by EU leaders and supporters), vilified as some kind of lefty/liberal plot to upset right-wingers by the Telegraph, UKIP members and Tory grandees, laughed at with incredulity by various journalists and semi celebrity commentators. There was even booing and shouts of derision from the assembled press and media representatives as the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland made the announcement.
To the Greek, Spanish, Irish and Portuguese masses suffering under strict austerity measures it must seem increasingly like the EU that their countries are members of is waging a war of attrition on them! And the austerity measures being used by European governments to try and get out of the current crisis of overproduction that is an unavoidable part of capitalism is in many ways just that, a war of attrition against the poor by the capitalist rulers and owners of wealth and all who create it. This attack on the masses is certainly not a promotion or protection of their human rights, and the understanding of this is spreading across the working masses who live in Europe as, country by country, they are called upon to give up everything to save the maximum profits and fabulous wealth of their masters.
Of course the EU leaders are not only involved in bringing misery to those who live in Europe: the sanctions placed on Iran, to name but one victim, have led to many shortages, causing poverty and therefore deaths. The individual countries that make up the EU have their own catalogues of violent intrusions into the affairs of sovereign countries which are far too numerous to show here in full but here is a small example of the recent ones:
1. The break up of Yugoslavia and the wars that followed cannot be attributed solely to US imperialism – Germany and Britain played major roles in the destruction of that sovereign country, parts of which have now been sucked into the EU.
2. British imperialism was right there at the side of US imperialism at every stage of the planning and implementation of the terroristic invasions and all-out wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.
3. French and British imperialism played a massive role in the destruction and pillage of Libya and is doing so in the covert war by proxy on Syria, while other European countries are also involved in that to a greater or lesser degree. This includes Switzerland, a country that constantly promotes itself as a peace-loving neutral state.
4. The majority of EU member states are well known arms dealers. The arms are developed and produced by national or multi-national companies within the EU and ministers of the various national governments, or sometimes of the EU government itself, help to sell them to ‘friendly’ regimes.
Of course there are many ways to destabilise and impoverish other countries. In the 1990s, EU fishing fleets overfished and dumped toxic waste in the sea around Somalia, totally destroying the fish stocks off the Horn of Africa. The result was to drive desperate former Somali fishermen to resort to piracy to feed their families. There are estimates that EU fleets stole five times the commercial value of fish from Somali waters that Somalia receives in ‘foreign aid’ each year. But economically devastating poor countries and leaving the people of said countries with the stark choice of starving or picking up a gun is what imperialism does – and then the EU super-parasites have the temerity to call the Somali pirates ‘parasites! Only the mentally deranged could call this the promotion of peace.
In his will, Swedish industrialist and inventor, Alfred Nobel, stated that the Peace Prize should be awarded to “the person who 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.” It was later on that institutions, as opposed to “persons”, were included as possible prize recipients. Even if we were to accept that Alfred Nobel may have meant institutions as well when he said “the person”, the question must arise as to what is an institution? Surely to win this prize even an ‘institution’ must have all the “persons” within it working (or professing to be working) for a common cause, i.e., peace, etc? Can anyone say that to award a peace prize to the European Union is in any way in line with the rather obvious spirit in which Alfred Nobel set out his wishes?
So far we can say without any doubt that the EU is neither peaceful nor is it working for peace. We can equally say that the EU does not, cannot, qualify as a candidate, let alone winner, of this prize if the original instructions as set out by Alfred Nobel are applied.
So the last question must be does the Nobel Peace Prize have any relevance? We would argue that on many occasions the committees that make the decisions have ripped to shreds the credibility of this prize, to the extent that it now stands stark nakedly exposed as a tool/weapon of imperialism. This assertion of course requires some proof if we want it to be taken seriously and for that purpose we will look at some of the previous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.
1. The prize has often been used to attack socialist countries, as happened when it was given to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who was working to destabilise and break up China under the guise of ‘human rights.’ This was in 2010 amid many anti-China stories being run through the imperialist media. Likewise in 1989 the prize went to the Dalai Lama to help keep his anti-China campaign in the limelight.
2. In 1975 Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident, was given the prize when all he wanted was the break-up of the Soviet Union and the return of capitalism at a faster rate than did the revisionists who by that stage had control of the Kremlin.
3. The leader of the forces of capitalist restoration in Poland, Lech Walesa, got the prize in 1983 when he had made no contribution to peace at all – on the contrary, all his efforts were designed to fool the Polish workers into believing that a future of milk and honey awaited them if they just overthrew their government and fully restored capitalist oppression to Poland.
4. The arch revisionist and destroyer of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, won the prize in 1990.
5. Amnesty International also received this prize in 1977 for their anti-Soviet lies and rumours that helped drive people in the West away from any real understanding of the socialist countries.
6. In 1973 the prizewinners were named as Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the respective negotiators of the US and Vietnamese delegations at the peace meetings to end the Vietnam War. At this time Kissinger was actually overseeing the secret bombing of Laos. Comrade Le Duc Tho declined the prize.
7. In 2009 the prize went to Barack H. Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. This was quite breathtaking as his only achievement at that date was getting elected as President of the USA. He had already declared, however, that he was trying to get out of the Iraq war, but that he would be stepping up the predatory war against Afghanistan. That is not exactly by anyone’s measure the promotion of peace, unless, of course, the reference is to the peace of the grave that US imperialism has extended to so many people from so many races in every corner of the world.
The only real peace for the peoples of the whole world will come when the system of imperialism has been thrown off and finally buried. Then we will build a sane world and we won’t need any prizes except the happy smiles on the faces of children who will never know, as they do now, the pain of hunger while warehouses of food rot because no one can afford to buy it. Children who will laugh and play and not constantly await falling bombs or a drone smashing into them and incinerating their little bodies every time they hear aircraft engines.
The Nobel Peace Prize is not relevant to the struggles of the working classes. If it ever did have any significance or progressive content, this has long since disappeared.