Four American presidents have received the Nobel Peace Prize. The first was Theodore Roosevelt, for his work to end the Russo-Japanese War. The second was Woodrow Wilson, whose Fourteen Points remain the framework on which the liberal world order is tenuous. The third was Jimmy Carter, who has been recognized for a life of post-presidential service advancing the cause of human dignity and freedom.
When President Barack Obama was the fourth to be appointed in 2009, his Republican detractors roared with outrage. But what Obama’s conservative critics have missed is that the young president was not awarded the Nobel on hopes of what he could accomplish, but on the daring of hope itself a quality practically embodied by Obama, who had propelled him to the White House.
What a contrast between yesterday and today.
President Donald Trump would be the fifth US president to win the Nobel Peace Prize if chosen by the committee. But if Trump embodies anything, it is all lies and fear. Where Obama said, “Yes, we can,” Trump said “Me alone.” Where Obama has sought to strengthen American alliances, Trump has repealed our treaties and abandoned our allies. Where Obama took office with a message urging Americans to reject fear and choose hope, Trump did so by describing “American carnage” that, in retrospect, seems more like a promise.
From a pandemic that needlessly killed more Americans in just a few short months than 20 years of terrorism and war, to a torrent of police brutality, violent white nationalism and anarchic vigilantism, this year alone has brought to light the contradictions between these two administrations. . The overlapping medical, economic, societal, and civil-military crises of 2020 deepened impressions of the United States as a declining power unable to solve its own problems, let alone help anyone with theirs. They produced grim assessments of a former superpower reduced to the 21st century “sick man”, even as a failed state. National pride is at an all-time low, and Americans entered the final weeks of a controversial election more angry, ashamed, and scared than ever before.
The idea that Donald Trump, the man who earlier this year tried to start a war with Iran to distract from his impeachment trial, which this summer called the world wars “beautiful,” which bragged last week that owning a secret apocalyptic nuclear weapon expected to receive the Nobel would be laughable if it weren’t so outrageous.
Obama was appointed, according to former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjorn Jagland, because of the ambitious tenor of his presidential campaign. “No one can deny,” Jagland said, “that the international climate had suddenly improved, and that Mr. Obama was the main reason … We want to embrace the message he stands for.”
Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a far-right Norwegian parliamentarian, nominated Trump ostensibly for his work in favor of a settlement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. An agreement has been signed, but the two sides already disagree on its interpretation and the Palestinian Authority has categorically rejected it. Even though we recognize the deal’s merits at first glance, Gjedde’s motives for Trump’s appointment are suspect.
He is best known in Norway for his barely distinguishable anti-immigrant rhetoric from that of Anders Breivik, the terrorist who slaughtered 77 people in 2011. Outside of Norway, he is known as a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. , and coincidentally, a lawyer for Norway and the European Union to legitimize Putin’s illegal seizure of Crimea in 2014. He might as well have appointed Putin himself, as the Russian president is one of the few world leaders to embrace what Trump supports.
Alfred Nobel gave some guidelines for choosing future recipients of his prize. But the first and most important was that they had worked for brotherhood among nations. Theodore Roosevelt did this with an indefatigable spirit that brought two warring emperors to the negotiating table. Woodrow Wilson did it by uniting the peoples of the world, in spirit, if not in deed. Jimmy Carter did it with decades of tireless efforts to make our world a better place. Barack Obama did this by inspiring people around the world to think of America itself.
Instead of promoting brotherhood among nations, Donald Trump has only sowed division, both at home and abroad. It’s quite insulting that his name is forever associated with these other presidents. This should not spoil the list of Nobel Prize winners.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Zachery Tyson Brown, an army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is security officer at the Truman National Security Project, a founding member of the Steady State and a member of the board of directors of the Military Writers Guild. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. TNS did not subsidize the writing of this column; opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TNS or its editors
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