Donald Trump and the Nobel Peace Prize

Donald Trump and the Nobel Peace Prize September 14, 2020

President Donald Trump is not what you would call a peaceable person.  But he has two nominations for a Nobel Peace Prize.  And if you can look beyond the person to the reasons why–which those who select the winner will probably be unable to do–he has a good case.

Mainstream reactions have ranged from treating the nomination as a joke to the angry indignation displayed by The Atlantic, which called for cancelling the Nobel Peace Prize.  (See the Atlantic’s article  End the Peace Prize.) Trump was first nominated by Norwegian member of parliament Christian Tybring-Gjedde, dismissively described in much of the media as a member of a “right-wing” party, even though his Progress Party is the third largest in the country and he himself leads Norway’s NATO delegation.

“For his merit,” said Tybring-Giedde, “I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees.”  The nomination, which can only be made by heads of state, lawmakers, and certain international institutions, cited Trump’s work in brokering the accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, which includes not only the diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel by an Arab nation but also hard-to-break economic ties and Israel’s promise to stop settlements on captured Arab land.  That accord is actually a very big deal, as this report explains.  And now Bahrain is coming on board and even Saudi Arabia is considering joining in.

You would think that making peace between the Arabs and the Israelis would be sufficient to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  But the nomination also praised Trump for “creating new dynamics in other protracted conflicts, such as the Kashmir border dispute between India and Pakistan, and the conflict between North and South Korea, as well as dealing with the nuclear capabilities of North Korea.”  Though the unprecedented talks between North and South Korea that Trump participated in have not borne fruition, at least as of yet, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at the time that Donald Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

And now Trump has received another nomination for another specific reason.  A Swedish member of parliament, Magnus Jacobsson, has nominated Trump, along with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo, for working out an economic accord that brings peace to those two regions despite decades of genocidal war.  The leaders of both Serbia and Kosovo have credited Trump for their agreement.

First of all, had you even heard of these accomplishments?  An accord between Arabs and Israelis?  Serbia and Kosovo?  You would think that peace agreements between those protagonists who have been at each other’s throats for so long would be big news.

Those are significant, tangible accomplishments.  You might remember that President Obama received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, having been nominated only two weeks into his administration, before he had accomplished anything in international relations.

But here is Tybring-Giedde’s most striking reason for believing Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize:  “Trump has broken a 39-year-old streak of American Presidents either starting a war or bringing the United States into an international armed conflict. The last president to avoid doing so was Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter.”

Can that be?  What about Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama?  He kept up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, broadened the use of drone strikes, and launched airstrikes or military raids in seven countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan).

Trump has not completely avoided shedding blood.  Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan remain and sometimes have had to fight, though they have been drastically drawn down.  Trump did deploy U.S. forces in support of the Kurds in a successful campaign in Syria against ISIS.  And U.S. forces did conduct a raid against rebel Islamist forces in Yemin.  And he has certainly made lots of threats.  (See this summary of Trump’s international actions.)  But, as his nominator says, unlike all presidents since Carter, he has not started a war or brought us into a new international armed conflict.

To be sure, sometimes wars and international armed conflicts are necessary.  But isn’t it significant that Trump, for all his projections of belligerence, has been such a peaceful and peacemaking president?

Democrats, do you disagree with any of Trump’s peacemaking projects?  Don’t you think he deserves credit for them?


Photo:  Nobel Peace Prize medal by ProtoplasmaKid / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons

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