The Nobel Peace Prize committee is clueless about what diminishes war, i.e., architecting an equilibrium of separated powers that entrusts decisions about war to an authority that gains nothing by abandoning peace; and, cultivating the learned excitements of wisdom, integrity and moral courage — not the instinctive thrills of domination, money, sex, fame, and creature comforts — as the summun bonum of existence.
The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize joint award to Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzi and India’s child slavery scourge Kailash Satyarthi illustrates the committee’s deficient understanding.
Both winners are admirable. They deserve Nobel Good Samaritan awards.
But nothing they have done has diminished war.
The Pakistani and Indian armies exchanged shellfire causing civilian deaths along the Line of Control in divided Kashmir during the week in which the two were honored for putative peace achievements. Pakistan and India have been clashing militarily over Kashmir for more than 60 years, including two full-fledged wars. Both countries possess nuclear arsenals, which makes Kashmir the most dangerous hotspot on the planet.
Despite Malala’s courage, Pakistan remains wracked by a civil war in Baluchistan, sectarian slaughters of Shiites, and a rebellion in the Northwest and Federally Administered Tribal Areas by the Taliban. She has awakened resentments and fears in Pakistan that foreclose her return from exile in Great Britain.
India, like Pakistan, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, notwithstanding the Nobel award to Mr. Satyarthi. Its border dispute with China, which precipitated a war in 1962, remains unresolved. And India’s ethnic strife in Assam has persisted for decades.
In sum, neither Nobel Peace Prize winner has diminished war in their native countries or anywhere else on the planet. That is a commonplace among Nobel Peace laureats.
President Obama received the award in 2009 with no peace accomplishments whatsoever. War soon became his global calling card with wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya.
Last year, the Nobel committee gave the prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as the unspeakable human carnage in Syria continued unabated.
In 2007, Al Gore received the Peace Prize jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin jointly shared the prize in 1994 for professedly bringing peace to the Middle East. Two decades later, the prospects for peace in Palestine have fallen, not climbed.
The savage thrill of domination for the sake of domination gives birth to chronic war. That depravity is in the DNA of the species.
Experience teaches but two methods to thwart or blunt the DNA that provokes war.
One is to splinter power and to entrust decisions to initiate war to an authority that profits nothing from military conflict. The U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers with authority solely in Congress to declare war under Article I, section 8, clause 11 is exemplary. Congress has placed the nation at war on but five occasions in almost 230 years. When Congress surrendered its authority de facto to the executive after World War II, the United States succumbed to chronic presidential wars not in self-defense as the president assumed the trappings and limitless power of an emperor.
A second method to diminish war is to promote instruction in moral philosophy to arrest the innate zeal for domination. The instruction must cultivate the learned thrills of self-restraint, virtue and moral courage as superior to the transient and morally empty gratifications of power, riches, celebrity and carnal pleasures. War must be disapproved as organized, legalized murder which occasions injustice. It can be justified only by self-defense. Finally, the principle must be inculcated that it is better to risk being the victim of injustice than to risk being complicit in it. With a national ethos informed by these philosophical teachings, the incidence of war will recede.
The Nobel committee needs to rethink its metrics for giving the Peace Prize.
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