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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/17/19

The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize

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Aung San Suu Kyi: Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent effort to bring civil government and human rights to her country, Myanmar (Burma). In this case it is true that she fought, non-violently, for civil government. However, as it turned out, Aung San Suu Kyi was not willing to fight for human rights for all the people of Myanmar. This is something that a more thorough vetting process might have revealed.

As it stands at present, she is implicated in a campaign of ethnic cleansing being waged by her government against the Rohingya Muslim minority of western Myanmar. An estimated 700,000 Rohingya have been violently driven from the country through the use of terror tactics such as murder, rape and pillage. "In August 2018, a United Nations fact-finding commission accused the Burmese military of genocidea view endorsed by, among others, experts at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C." Aung San Suu Kyi's response to such criticism is "show me a country without human rights issues." This casual and dismissive attitude toward bestial national behavior, coming from a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, is an indication of real problems with the Peace Prize selection process.

Part III -- The Wearing Away of Ideals

What happens when something as prestigious as the Nobel Peace Prize becomes periodically sullied due to superficial vetting by those involved in both the nomination and selection process? The answer is the slow wearing away of yet another ideal that might support a better future for all of us. Other ideals that are similarly suffering such a fate are the rule of law represented by international law and international courts, and the importance of human rights as a universal value. At present such ideals are in retreat before resurgent, often racist, nationalism.

Is it any surprise then that the Nobel Peace Prize has failed to encourage the search for peace as a conscious goal for the world's statesmen and stateswomen? It hasn't brought us any closer to world peace, nor has it discouraged the waging of regional wars at a more or less continuous rate.

In many ways the world has become increasingly hostile to the ideal of peace as well as the reality of a human collective. There has always been significant numbers of people who feel that they would rather have civil rights limited to their dominant group and the enforcement of a "cultural dictatorship" that reflects this radical "majority rule" scenario. It should be noted that this is not just an American problem. It is a worldwide problem.

There can be no long-term national peace under these circumstances. There can only be repeated episodes of ethnic cleansing, the institution of apartheid, and the xenophobic abuse we find personified in the West by Donald Trump. And, where racism and xenophobia prevail nationally, international laws and regulations that demand universal respect for human rights are doomed. If this situation prevails, then sooner or later, the xenophobic national groupings will turn against each other and ever-larger-scale international war will become probable. At that point, if there is any prize at all, it will be given for the most effective denigration of the "other." The Nobel Peace Prize, always a weak vessel for promoting the virtues of peace, will have gone to ground along with international law and human rights.

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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