- - Thursday, May 3, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Nobel Peace Prize has always been more about rewarding a certain kind of Scandinavian liberalism than celebrating actual, identifiable achievement. So it’s highly unlikely that the five Norwegians, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, who bestow the prize would give one to President Donald Trump — even were he to abolish all weapons, end all conflicts, and “stop the rise of the oceans.” It’s highly unlikely the president will call Air Force One from the hangar for a trip to Stockholm.

Still, as North and South Korea head toward a detente unthinkable only a month or so ago — and even as the Kim Jong-un’s regime in Pyongyang hints it might be willing to give up its prized cache of nuclear weapons — there’s natural speculation that the president could win the Peace Prize, which was first bestowed in 1901. None other than South Korea’s leftist leader, Moon Jae-in, says President Trump should win it, citing the new, if exceedingly fragile, harmony between Korea’s north and south. President Moon just came off a historic summit with Kim Jong-un, in which the leader of North Korea set foot in South Korean territory for the first time ever, and if only for a few fleeting seconds about a foot inside. Mr. Moon credits the Trump administration’s policy as making the momentous occasion happen.

Now a group of Republicans in the House of Representatives, citing Mr. Moon’s statement, sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee formally nominating Mr. Trump. The president deserves the award, they say, “in recognition of his work to end the Korean war, denuclearize the Korean peninsula, and bring peace to the region.

“Since taking office, President Trump has worked tirelessly to apply maximum pressure on North Korea to end its illicit weapons program and bring peace to the region. The sanctions have been largely credited for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table.” Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana had the idea first, and others who signed the letter include Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Evan Jenkins of West Virginia, and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. The president himself is dazzled by the prospect, and why wouldn’t he be? When the crowd began chanting “Nobel, Nobel” at one recent Trump event, the president replied modestly, “Thank you, that’s very nice.” It’s not the money, though the prize comes with a purse worth north of a million dollars. As the president says, the honor is very nice.

The Republican congressmen, the president of South Korea and the chanting crowds have a point, though it’s a bit of premature, prize-wise, just as Barack Obama’s prize, awarded before he did anything good or bad, was premature. Mr. Trump’s way of dealing with the government in Pyongyang includes sanctions (which are obviously beginning to squeeze and smart) and talking about striking the Kim regime where it would hurt most, have clearly pushed Kim Jong-un to change his strategy, or at least start thinking about it. Mr. Trump’s success so far shows just how feckless Mr. Obama’s “strategic patience” was. But if Mr. Trump can negotiate an official and actual end to the Korean War at the Trump-Kim summit, the president will deserve the prize for sure.

And yet, were the president to win it, he would actually find himself in some disreputable company. With some exceptions, the roll call of winners reads like a rogue’s gallery (some more roguish than others) of wimps and rascals — the European Union, Barack Obama, Al Gore, the International Panel on Climate Change, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Rigoberta Menchu and Yasser Arafat, among others. With all due respect to the Republicans who have nominated the president, do they really want to add keeping bad company to the Donald’s achievements? But it’s true that such a “revoltin’ development” would invite enough strokes and heart attacks to drain the swamp in one fell swoop.

The Nobel committee makes no secret of its use of the prize to jab a sharp stick in the eye of hateful troglodytic conservatives. In 2002, when Jimmy Carter won it, the prize committee chairman said, with customary graciousness, that the award “should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the [George W. Bush] administration has taken. It’s a kick in the leg to all who follow the same line as the United States.” In Norwegian parlance, a “kick in the leg” is roughly a slap in the face. So Stormy Daniels probably has a greater chance of winning the prize than Donald Trump. She’s in the business, after all, of showing more than leg.


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