Nobel Peace Prize goes to anti-nuke group

As the New York Times reports this morning, the Nobel Prize for Peace has gone to a group that negotiated a UN treaty to ban and eventually eliminate all the world’s nuclear weapons (you can see that treaty here and here).  The treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly last December, and the details about i can, the organization that pushed the treaty, is in the NYT article below (click screenshot to go to article).

An excerpt:

In a year when threats from nuclear weapons seemed to draw closer, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to an advocacy group behind the first treaty to prohibit them.

The group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva-based coalition of disarmament activists, was honored for its efforts to advance the negotiations that led to the treaty, which was reached in July at the United Nations.

“The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement.

The choice amounted to a blunt rejoinder to the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers, which boycotted the negotiations and denounced the treaty as a naïve and dangerous diversion.

But if you look at the treaty (and I haven’t read it in detail), it’s not done and dusted—it stipulates that member nations should sign such a declaration, which would then be “legally binding” after 50 countries ratify it. It’s a great step in gathering worldwide sentiment, but the whole thing sounds like a sham to me. Really, what is the chance that the US—even if 50 countries sign the treaty—will abandon its nukes, much less Russia, Israel, the UK, or, for crying out loud, North Korea? And if you think Iran is going to forever put its nuclear weapons program on hold because of its agreement with the U.S., I fear you’ve been duped. If these countries violate the treaty, what can the UN do about it? Nada!

This seems to me to be a prize awarded for intention rather than substantive accomplishment, like giving Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho the prize in 1973 (there wasn’t even good intention there), or, for that matter, Barack Obama the prize in 2009 (what peace did he create?). What with North Korea having no intention of stopping its nuclear program, even under very tough sanctions, and Iran just waiting to get the bomb, the dream of a nuclear-free world is just that—a dream.


  1. DrBrydon
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Yes. the Nobel Peace Prize seems to be used increasingly as a means of encouraging certain behaviors rather then rewarding actual outcomes. Too much peace these days, I guess.

    • nicky
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I gathered that encouragement always was the intention.

  2. Anselm
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been able to understand how nuclear weapons don’t directly contravene Articles 51 and 54 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. These Articles prohibit direct attacks on non-military civilian targets, including the use of nuclear weapons whose scope of destruction cannot be limited. Nuclear weapons target civilians by definition. As such, how are they not the military equivalent of Auschwitz?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      That’s exactly what they are. Just that those whose interests depend on using them as an implicit threat don’t like to make that admission.


  3. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    yes but at least it reminds about our possible (probable??)fate. In all the surveys and newsletters etc from democrats, never is there a question about nuclear weapons. I write back and say that is my most important issue and why do they ignore it. And of course I am ignored. So maybe the Nobel can prod the pols to, for one moment, contemplate
    the highest priority threat, except maybe climate warming – where more is being accomplished than on nuclear weapons’ elimination.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It is a slow year in the peace business. It is also an idealistic move because there has been little accomplished. Everyone can be anti-nuclear just as they can be for world peace but who really believes it can ever happen? The one thing I believe is that we are further away from it now than we were a year or two ago.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    One can find articles about various potential candidates for the Nobel peace prize. For example here:
    Some of the rumored or confirmed candidates were very believable, like Angela Merkel. Others are gob-smackingly bizarre (a joint prize for Putin and Trump? WTF??).

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    This Prize is rewarded for public opinion pressure. This is what the world wants, and since wars are on an extinction curve, it is what the world could get.

    By the way, the Prize to Obama was given for similar reasons, as I understand it. (It was speculated that it was given in the hope Obama would fix what Bush broke. Or at least not make it worse – which he did by continuing killings by drone, snipers and what not.)

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Wasn’t the Obama prize effectively an award to America, recognising the progress from the slavery era to the Jim Crow era to the point where a black is elected President?

      From that point of view it was a reasonable award, with Obama just being the figurehead recipient.

      • Darrin Carter
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        That was the reason I believe Pres. Obama was awarded the prize. Unfortunately we should give it bsck.

  7. BobTerrace
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t take the Nobel Peace prize seriously. It is orders of magnitude less serious than the other Nobel awards.

  8. Historian
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Your comment about Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho is quite true. As the documentary on PBS about Vietnam amply showed, the so-called peace accord to end the war was nothing more than a way for the U.S. to save face, totally withdraw from the country, and to get its POWs back. The U.S. withdrawal of its remaining troops from South Vietnam guaranteed the latter’s doom. I opposed the war totally, but the decision of the Nixon and Ford Administrations to abandon the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese who collaborated with us is a great shame. As I watched this final episode, I physically felt ill as the show made clear how the U.S., in an attempt to put the war behind it, committed an act of moral cowardice that should not be forgotten.

    In my estimation, the 18 hour documentary is an achievement of monumental proportions. It was painful to watch, making me depressed, angry, and mesmerized. For both those of us who remember the war and those who don’t, the lessons taught by this documentary need to be learned. For me, the biggest lesson is that ego can lead to a tragedy of great dimensions. It was apparent to American leaders in 1965 that the war could not be done, but they let it go on for another ten years.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I agree with you on that show, but we had a long commentary yesterday from another reader (here) saying the show was a mockery. I don’t think his objections (based, among other things, on who funded the show, and the lack of professional historians–there were some!) were telling, and I did like the show. It made me profoundly sad to live through this again, but in an even more vivid way, since news from Vietnam was deeply censored by the U.S. So many people killed on both sides–and for what?

      • Historian
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Thanks for directing me to Mr. Fitzgerald’s comments on the documentary. All I can say is that my perception is totally different than his. Yes, it probably could have been improved by having professional historians amongst the talking heads. But, I’m not sure that they would have changed the interpretation of the war presented by Burns and Novick. Fitzgerald seems to think that documentary was not hard enough on the American presidents. Well, I think that Burns and Novick were very hard on LBJ and Nixon. For example, they made clear that Nixon committed treason by attempting to delay the Paris Peace Talks for the sake of electoral gain. Finally, Fitzgerald says: “This is not history. It is story telling designed to make us feel good.” As I indicated above, it made me feel anything but good. On occasion, I felt physically ill and ashamed of my country.

        From my point of view, the documentary made abundantly clear the folly of the war, instigated by American leaders. It depicted most American soldiers as honorable without neglected those who committed atrocities, such as Lieutenant Calley. I guess like many things, the perception of this documentary is in the eyes of the beholder.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          I must admit I have not read the Fitzgerald comments but I certainly agree with your take here. This documentary was very much history and having others do the commentary makes no difference. This was the war as I remember it and I was here at the time. I had to make decisions to avoid the draft just like millions of others. But I want people to understand the most important thing about Vietnam as it teaches us so well. If you decide to go to war for all the wrong reasons you will likely lose. We went to war down there for wrong reasons. We assumed so wrongly that this was a war against communism. It was not. All they need to do was talk to the guy up north and they would have found out. At one time he wanted our help. It is pathetic that old men would do these things that were so stupid then and are still stupid today. And my fear is that most people have learned nothing from this tragedy. Maybe Fitzgerald is one of them.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Ken Burn’s Vietnam is one of the most profound things I have ever seen. I was only just born when the war was ending. I knew little about it.

      The division and the pain and the deceit. I had no idea. I am convinced that war is still alive today in the way that ideologies divide and control people.

      • Historian
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        The deceit part is very important. I have heard it said and I think it is true that Vietnam marked the start when the American people lost faith in the national government and just assumed that anything coming from it is a lie. Today, this very dangerous attitude is still going strong, not without some justification.

  9. Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”

    It is not just catastrophic humanitarian consequences we should be concerned about regarding nuclear weapons but the consequences to the whole planet. Humans are the direct causes of almost all of the planets problems, nuclear weapons are just one of the problems.

  10. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I feel compelled to put this here :

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

  11. Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I have always thought it curious that the have-nations think it righteous when they tell the have-not-but-want-to-have-nations that they can’t have.

    There. I have had my say.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Ooops. I have put this in the wrong place.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s in the worng place.

        Whether you’re talking about nukes or the energy-profligate ‘standard of living’, it’s entirely apposite.


  12. Chris Swart
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Born in 1950, I was very conscious of Vietnam from 1965 when the first student from my school was killed there, and during a summer job it fell to me to cut the grass around his grave.

    I thought the series was superb, and accurately captured the collective illusions of that time.

    Another friend, on leave from the Marines around 1968, told me to avoid going at any cost. He was disgusted. He said all we do is burn villages and rice, and get shot at.

  13. Chris Swart
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    On the Nobel, I think it’s OK. But maybe Obama and Kerry should have got one retroactively for overseeing the Iran deal.

    That would drive Trump even more nuts.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    And if you think Iran is going to forever put its nuclear weapons program on hold because of its agreement with the U.S., I fear you’ve been duped.

    And if you think they won’t get there even faster if Trump ignores the advice of all his top advisers and follows through on his threat to decertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, you’ve been had. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      How is it possible for an ignorant political figurehead like Drumpf to ‘decertify’ a technical issue which should be the province of experts?


  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    “the dream of a nuclear-free world is just that—a dream.”

    And if ‘we’ don’t at least try, nothing will ever happen.


    • Posted October 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The odds of success may be long, but the payoff is huge. One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. Thousands of nukes… well, we need to avoid that if at all possible

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