- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

The Norwegian Nobel Committee yesterday awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to former President Jimmy Carter, a move the committee's chairman said reflects "criticism of the position" the Bush administration has taken in calling for possible military strikes against Iraq.

Interviewed on CNN's "Larry King Live," Mr. Carter said he "would have voted 'no'" if he had been in the Senate early yesterday, when it passed a resolution approving President Bush's request for authority to use military force against Iraq. The House passed a similar resolution on Thursday.

Just hours after Mr. Carter was officially informed that he had won the $1 million prize "for his decades of untiring efforts" in conflict resolution, fostering democracy and fighting tropical disease, some members of the Nobel committee criticized panel Chairman Gunnar Berge for using the award to the former president to speak out against Mr. Bush's war threats.

At a news conference in Oslo, Mr. Berge said that, in addition to honoring Mr. Carter, this year's Nobel Peace Prize "should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current [U.S.] administration has taken."

"It's a kick in the legs to all that follow the same line as the United States," Mr. Berge added.

The selection of Mr. Carter by the secretive five-member committee was unanimous. The panel has often used the peace prize to send a political message, but it rarely makes the kind of direct remarks Mr. Berge made yesterday. At least two other members of the panel distanced themselves from the chairman's statements.

"As I see it, that is not the committee's opinion," Inger Marie Ytterhorn, who represents the conservative Party of Progress in the Norwegian parliament, told the Associated Press. Hanna Kuanme of the Socialist Left Party also said Mr. Berge's comments reflected his own views, not those of the committee as a whole.

Leaders of various peace organizations, such as Amnesty International and the New York-based Fellowship of Reconciliation praised the committee's choice of Mr. Carter. But some other groups questioned the selection.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he was "less-than-thrilled" about the choice. "Jimmy Carter has bias in his heart when it comes to the Middle East. He always takes a pro-Palestinian position," Mr. Foxman said in an interview.

The Nobel committee wanted Mr. Carter included in the 1978 peace prize for brokering the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Peace Prize that year. Mr. Carter was left out because he was nominated too late. He has reportedly been nominated nearly every year since then.

Retired Col. Robert Maginnis, a military analyst and former vice president of policy at the Family Research Council, said he finds it "incredibly suspicious" that Mr. Carter is receiving the Nobel Peace Prize now, "more than 20 years after the Camp David peace agreement."

"I believe it is a slap at President Bush by the Nobel committee, which has a radically leftist bent," said Mr. Maginnis.

"It's unfortunate that the committee is using this prize to send their garbled [anti-war] message to President Bush," he added.

But Jim Roush, president of a group called Foundation for PEACE, in Raleigh, N.C., said he believes the "Bush administration deserves a little slap in the face, particularly for the way it's been behaving toward the United Nations."

As for Mr. Carter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Roush said, "They couldn't have done any better."

Among those who have received the Nobel Peace Prize since it was first awarded in 1901 have been Martin Luther King (1964), Henry Kissinger (1973), Amnesty International (1977), the Office of the U.N. Council of Refugees (1981) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War U.S.A (1985).

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, and the world body itself shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Discord on the Nobel committee is rare, but in 1994, member Kaare Kristd quit rather than be a party to giving the peace prize to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Arafat shared the award with Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres that year.

David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, praised Mr. Carter for the "important role he has played as an election observer" in trouble spots around the world.

Mr. Carter "has proven himself as an exemplary former president," said Mr. Keene, adding, "Our only concern is that he may be getting this award now, more because his stance on Iraq appeals to the politically correct" members on the committee "rather than on the basis of his undeniably good will."

Mr. Carter told CNN he learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize from a phone call about 4 a.m. yesterday. "I was very humbled and grateful, obviously, and honored," he said.

Mr. Bush called to congratulate him three hours later, according to White House spokesman Ken Mathias.

"They had a long and friendly conversation. The president was pleased to be able to congratulate a former president for receiving such a prestigious award," Mr. Mathias said.

The citation Mr. Carter will receive in ceremonies Dec. 10 reads, in part, "The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development."

The citation says Mr. Carter's contribution to the Camp David accords alone qualifies him for the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, it cited his work with the Carter Center during the past 20 years, his commitment to human rights and his hard work to "fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries."

The citation itself contained some political language alluding to the potential use of military force to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. "In a situation currently marked by threats of use of power, Carter has stood by the principle that conflicts must be resolved through mediation and international cooperation, based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development," it said.

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