Nobel Peace Prize, by Michael Brenner

A few readers have responded to the Nobel Peace Prize piece to inquire about my anonymous Norwegian informant. Well, the gentleman does exist, and indeed he has a brother-in-law who is a member of the award committee. My contact is a Norwegian oilman whom I ran into in the lobby of a Houston hotel a decade or so ago. We haven’t been in touch recently, though.

At that time, he gave me an account of how the decision to make Barack Obama a laureate was taken. It seems that the panelists were fascinated by, and drawn into the aura surrounding this charismatic, faintly exotic prophet rising on the horizon. He clearly had that unique star quality that magnetizes those yearning to be lifted above the humdrum. They longed to meet him in person but there looked to be little chance that Obama would be making a state visit to Oslo. So, somebody was struck by the audacious idea of awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize which would ensure not only a visit to Norway, but the opportunity to dine with him and to bask in the glow of his persona – what the Indians call “darshan.”

Obama was an exceptional prophet insofar as he had neither message nor mission. In an age when
‘hero’ is synonymous with ‘celebrity,’ that was of little account. Hence, there was no buyer’s remorse when Prince of Peace distinguished himself by his extending the bloodshed in Afghanistan for 8 more years, the kill list, drone assassinations, the bombing of Libya into chaos, and America’s becoming a co-belligerent in the Saudis’ murderous assault on the Houthis in Yemen. Echoes of Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho.

One wonders whether the selection of the Nobel recipient might not benefit from giving a voice to those who are directly affected by the actions of the candidates under review – albeit the dead can’t talk, the maimed are mute and the widows just weep.


Michael Brenner