In The Wake of Myanmar’s Ethnic Cleansing, It’s Time To Scrap The Nobel Peace Prize

Myanmar refugees Getty Images/Kevin Frayer

Jeffrey S. Podoshen Professor of business and propaganda expert
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Recently, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Myanmar’s crackdown on the Rohingya “ethnic cleansing.” With these reports of the ethnic violence centered on Myanmar’s largely Muslim ethnic minority that has been forced to flee the country, calls have grown increasingly louder to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. The Burmese leader, Kyi has been inactive and silent on the situation unfolding in her country.

But the Nobel Institute has already publicly stated there is no system to rescind a prize after it has been awarded. It’s just another black eye on a long list of questionable Laureates which illustrates why the award’s standing as a global institution is a sham and should be retired.

In the past quarter century, the awards have shifted to make clearly biased political statements, rather than purport the vision Alfred Nobel had in mind: A “person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Father of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat, was behind a multitude of bombings and hijackings that targeted civilians for decades prior to his role in negotiations with Israel. He continued to organize terror campaigns after his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 and, by nearly all accounts, was the individual responsible for the rejection of the President Clinton-brokered roadmap for peace, which may have resulted in a long-standing peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, Arafat sold out peace for his own personal gain and, as reported in Newsweek in 2001, Bill Clinton scolded Arafat and asserted that the President himself was a “colossal failure” by Arafat’s inaction to embrace peace.

Former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” Four years later, Jimmy Carter published a book entitled “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” and helped usher in the woefully inaccurate and dangerously inappropriate term “apartheid” to the Middle Eastern conflict. As noted Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz (who actually assisted Carter in his presidential campaign) has eloquently explained over the years, there are myriad reasons why labeling the conflict “apartheid” is not only wrong theoretically, but also has precipitated increased anti-Semitism against Jewish people (not just Israelis) in all areas of the globe.

Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. To this day, few are quite sure why. It was thought to have been given to him “preemptively” for “encouragement.” Sadly, during Obama’s tenure as president, unchecked violence occurred during what was then labeled as the “Arab Spring,” which resulted in hundreds of thousands innocent civilians forced to flee the region with many perishing along the way. Secondly, as reported by many, Obama’s lethal drone strikes in Pakistan likely resulted in increased hostilities and radicalization as opposed to their reduction.

While the Nobel Peace Prize has certainly awarded its share of well-deserved, hard-to-dispute winners like Malala Yousafzai, Elie Wiesel and Mother Teresa, it’s become ever more apparent that awarding the prize to politicians, and for partisan reasons, does not lend itself well to the Nobel “brand.” Awarding a Peace Prize to politicians should not be seen as an end or even a form of encouragement, as we have all been disappointed so many times. As we can see, Kyi is not an aberration in problematic behavior of Nobel winners, but is merely one in a growing line of questionable winners. And Arafat’s receipt of the prize has done nothing but encourage the continued charade that Palestinian leadership is seeking a peaceful coexistence with Israelis when the reality is altogether different.

It is time for the Royal Swedish Academy to seriously rethink this award or retire it entirely. One thing peace doesn’t need more of in this world is disappointment.

Jeffrey S Podoshen is associate professor of business, organizations and society at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He teaches the courses “Propaganda and Genocide” and “Evil, Death and Dystopia,” among others.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.