The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the prize this year has been awarded to Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed for his efforts to bring peace between his country and neighboring Eritrea and for his efforts towards bringing “reconciliation, solidarity and social justice” to the region.
Giving the Peace prize to current politicians is always a dangerous thing since they can then go on and do things that make a mockery of it. For example, the committee awarded the prize to Barack Obama in 2009 even though he had done nothing to deserve it and indeed soon after announced the surge of 30,000 troops sent to Afghanistan and increased the drone killings. Of course, nothing could be worse than giving the award to war criminal Henry Kissinger, something the prize committee was roundly and deservedly condemned for.
Ahmed actually has done something and taken great political risks to break down the barriers between Ethiopia and Eritrea, two neighboring countries that were once a single country whose populations are almost identical in character but have been separated due to a tragic civil war, with a hard border that split apart families. It was not unlike the separation between North and South Korea.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister who helped end his country’s 20-year war with Eritrea.
Abiy, 43, also recently won plaudits for his role in helping to broker a power-sharing deal in neighboring Sudan after a political crisis that led to the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the country’s ruler for almost three decades.
Elected in April last year, the early months of Abiy’s premiership were marked with bold and progressive decision making.
He released the country’s political prisoners, denouncing their torture, and freed jailed journalists. Abiy met the political opposition and civil society to discuss reform, and invited previously exiled political parties to return to Ethiopia. He also embarked on major institutional reforms, including in the security and justice sectors.
I had the pleasure of visiting Ethiopia in the early 1970s, just a year before the autocratic but then feeble emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown and the country became ruled by a succession of military dictators. It was clearly a very impoverished country at that time
Trump has been campaigning to be given the prize because, in his mind, he thinks he is deserving of it for the simple reason that if Obama could get it, then he should too. He has even asked other world leaders like Japan’s prime minister to nominate him for it. He must be seething that the leader of another country, a country that he has likely never heard of before but would lump together with other ‘shithole’ countries from Africa, has been given the honor that is rightfully his.
Given that the rest of the past week has been one setback after another both politically and legally for Trump, this snub will likely infuriate him. We should not be surprised to see a barrage of angry tweets.
for his efforts to bring peace between his country and neighboring Ethiopia
Isn’t the neighboring country Eritrea?
Has he got his instructions yet from Putin, possibly via Fox? Whilst he might do a bit of free-lance infuriating, Putin will probably want to keep him “on target” — aimed at, e.g., Japan’s PM — so there should be some incoming guidance. He might otherwise jump several coal trains loaded with sharks and, e.g., place tariffs on Ethiopian coffee. (Ethiopia is probably where the coffee plant originated, and has been a much-prized export for centuries.)
Rob Grigjanis says
Ethnically and linguistically, they are both diverse, but there isn’t a lot of overlap between the two. Most Eritreans are Tigrinya or Tigre, while most Ethiopians speak Oromo or Amharic. Tigrinya and Amharic are probably no closer to each other than English and German.
Mano Singham says
Thanks for pointing out the error. I have corrected it.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
The point about what he did while in office is well taken, but there are good reasons why (even though it may be hyperbole) the POTUS is called the “leader of the free world” and other such extravagant things. It may very well be the most powerful elected office on earth. And until Obama, that power had never been wielded by anyone but a white man.
it sends a message to the world, not just to those in the United States, when the most powerful person in it must always be white. Ending the whites only requirement for POTUS is a HUGE accomplishment.
Now, you can argue that it wasn’t his accomplishment alone, that it required an entire society to change in order to make his election possible, but until someone other than a white man was elected, there was always going to be a huge extra level of media (and other) scrutiny. He was the one who took on the challenge and surpassed it.
And again, he only surpassed it because of the choices of 60 million or so voters, but that’s what the Peace Prize always does: it gives prizes to specific people like Malala Yousafzai even though the actual work that merited the prize was done by thousands if not tens of thousands of people.
So, yes, Obama did things very much contrary to the mission of the Peace Prize while in office and your worry about giving the Prize to elected officials still in office is completely valid. However, the idea that Obama did nothing to deserve the prize in the first place is only true if it’s legitimate to give the prize to Abiy Ahmed for work done by thousands to influence the choices of millions, but not legitimate to give the prize to Obama for the work done by thousands to influence the choices of millions.
I disagreed with giving Obama the Prize at the time, but I understand the reasoning for it to be consistent with how other prizes have been given and I don’t believe that the “did nothing” trope is fair given the impact of white supremacy upon the entire world and what it means to have reached the important turning point of having a non-white person occupy the most powerful elected office the world has to offer.
Marcus Ranum says
After Kissinger nobody should accept it
Reginald Selkirk says
It is my view that Obama was awarded the prize for not being George W. Bush.