Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons." The official ceremony will take place in Oslo on Dec. 10.
Fascinating. In a world where stockpiles of chemical weapons are increasing at a terrifying rate in totalitarian states and rogue nations, the Nobel Committee decided to honor OPCW for supposedly eliminating them. How are they doing this, exactly?
That's why I yawned when I heard this news. It's hard to take the Nobel Committee seriously when an organization is given its top prize for providing the appearance of doing something important. As Britain's former foreign secretary, David Miliband, recently pointed out on "This Week" on ABC, "the truth is that they probably wouldn't have gotten this prize if [Syrian President Bashar] Assad hadn't used chemical weapons." (Following this train of thought, Russian President Vladimir Putin should have won the award.)
No, I'm not trying to be mean-spirited by singling out the OPCW. There have been many other questionable Nobel Peace Prize winners, including brutal dictators, left-wing politicians, wide-eyed radicals and meaningless organizations.
Here's a shortlist of some unusual recipients: North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho (1973), United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (1988), Guatemala's Rigoberta Menchu (1992), Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat (1994), the United Nations and Kofi Annan (2001), Jimmy Carter (2002), International Atomic Energy Agency (2005), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore (2007) and Barack Obama (2009).
To be fair, have there been some worthy Nobel Peace Prize winners? Of course. Theodore Roosevelt (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1919), George Catlett Marshall (1953), Martin Luther King Jr. (1964), Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin (1978), Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk (1993) certainly deserved this recognition for a variety of reasons.
Yet as Bret Stephens wrote in the Oct. 12, 2009, edition of The Wall Street Journal, "most of the prize winners draw from the obscure ranks of the sorts of people the late Oriana Fallaci liked to call 'the Goodists.'"
These are individuals "who believe all conflict stems from avoidable misunderstanding," and perceive that "the world's evils spring from technologies, systems, complexes (as in 'military-industrial') and everything else except from the hearts of men, where love abides." The Goodists also "mistake wishes for possibilities ... put a higher premium on their own moral intentions than on the efficacy of their actions ... champion education as the solution, whatever the problem."
"Above all," wrote Mr. Stephens, "the Goodists are the people who like to be seen to be good." Which gives a whole new meaning to a popular line from "The Ren & Stimpy Show" in "The Log Song": "It's better than bad, it's good!"
All kidding aside, the never-ending supply of Goodists perfectly fit within the current parameters of the Nobel Committee's mandate on peace, global governance and social justice. The Nobel Peace Prize recipients have therefore helped fulfill this obvious political agenda — and at the same time, rendered the award as a meaningless honor.
Let's be honest. When someone such as Mr. Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize for doing next to nothing on the international stage, something is definitely rotten in (with apologies to William Shakespeare) the state of Norway.
It also shatters the myth surrounding Alfred Nobel's guiding principles for his prizes. National Review's Jay Nordlinger, author of a book on the Nobel Peace Prize, told Deutsche Welle (DW) last year that the Swedish inventor's will may support the "fraternity between nations," but it is "a little like the U.S. Constitution: There are people who interpret it strictly, and people who interpret it liberally to mean whatever they want it to mean."
The OPCW, which has a cooperation agreement in place with the equally inept United Nations, is therefore a perfect candidate to join the other Nobel Peace Prize laureates. A small cadre of left-leaning bon viveurs will immediately shower the newly crowned recipients with praise and affection, and the liberal media will fawn all over them.
With the notable exception of these two groups and their big box of rose-colored glasses, does anyone else really care about the Nobel Peace Prize? Very few people, it seems. And make no mistake about it: This tiny number will continue to shrink if the Goodists aren't eventually replaced by individuals who are closer to being Realists.
Michael Taube, a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a contributor to The Washington Times.