Another Nobel Peace Prize – Another Farce?

The Nobel Peace Prize brings another surprise — or farce — depending on your view. In relatively recent history, there has been Henry Kissinger (1973) architect supreme of murderous assaults on sovereign nations; the United Nations (2001) whose active warmongering or passive, silent holocausts (think UN embargoes) make shameful mockery of the aspirational founding words.

In 2002 it was Jimmy Carter, whose poisonous “Carter Doctrine” of 1980 included declaring the aim of American control of the Persian Gulf as a “US vital interest”, justified “by any means necessary.” 2005 saw the Award go to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes nuclear energy, creating the most lethal pollutants to which the planet and its population has ever been subjected. The nuclear waste from the industry the IAEA promotes is now turned into “conventional”, but nevertheless, nuclear and chemical weapons, by a sleight of hand of astonishing historical proportions.

Barack Obama (2009) has since declared himself executioner, by assassination in any form, any time, any place, anywhere, of anyone deemed by him (not judge or jury) connected to that now catch-all phrase “terrorism” half a world away.

The Guantanamo concentration camp to which he unequivocally committed closing (November 17, 2008, “60 Minutes”) asserting: “I have said repeatedly that I will close Guantanamo and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America does not torture. And I’m gonna make sure that we don’t torture … those are part and parcel of an effort to … regain America’s moral stature in the world.” Gulag Guantanamo remains with its prisoners, pathetic, desperate untried, or those ordered released, languishing year after year. America’s “moral stature” has plummeted lower than the Nixon years.  Libya lies in ruins,  Syria barely survives, with the terrorists’ backers aided via Washington’s myriad back doors – and in global outposts, US-backed or instigated torture thrives.

2012’s Nobel lauded the European Union, which, since its inception, has crippled smaller trading economies, put barriers, unattainable conditions, or indeed, near extortion on trade with poorer countries (often former colonies.)

EU Member States have also enjoined punitive embargoes against the most helpless of nations and enthusiastically embraced the latest nation target to be reduced to a pre-industrial age (correction: be freed to embrace democracy and the delights of rule by imposed despots, or a long, murderous, unaccountable foreign occupation and asset seizure.) Eminent International Law expert, Professor Francis Boyle, called the EU Award “a sick joke and a demented fraud.”

This year’s Peace Prize, awarded on Friday, October 11, went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Netherlands-based organization, founded only in 1997, unheard of by most, charged with ridding the world of chemical weapons.

The Award came ten days after an OPCW team arrived in Syria to eliminate the country’s chemical weapons stock. A brief visit in August had them scuttling out, an apparent courage free entity, within days. President Assad had requested their investigations back in March, after it was claimed terrorist factions had used chemical weapons – insurgents now believed to be from some eighty-three countries, backed primarily by the US, UK, Quatar and Saudi Arabia.

The OPCW’s return, on October 1, is now touted as a breakthrough with an intransigent regime who had previously blocked them at every turn – rather than had the door open for them since March – the team, now billed as brave souls, working in a war zone – in which the Syrian people and government live – and die – every day – in a blood-soaked insurgency of that famed “international community’s” making.

Is the annual Nobel justified anyway to an organization which has, in spite of the nightmare hazards to an entire population, agreed to destroy an alleged 1,000 tons of highly dangerous chemicals (if we believe what we are told) in just months?

In context, the US still has over three times as much chemical weaponry (estimated at over 3,100 tons) and has defied the specified April 2012 deadline for their disposal on the basis that the dangers are so great that they cannot complete building the appropriate facilities until 2020 (some reports state 2023.) For the same reasons of technical and safety obstacles, Russia has a believed five times the US amount left to destroy. Shameful double standards rule supreme.

Wade Mathews, who worked on the U.S. chemical stockpile destruction, is uncertain that Syria can meet the deadline. He states that the U.S. disposal took billions of dollars, the cooperation of many levels of government, including the military, and a safe environment, to make sure the destruction was safely executed.

To the observer, it would seem that the OPCW has taken on a high profile, rushed, reckless enterprise, under pressure from the US/UN, which could potentially poison Syria’s people and environment in orders of magnitude beyond the alleged horrors unleashed by, near certainly, the insurgents.

So what possible reason for the OCPW Nobel, and why now? Interestingly, OPCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, is Turkish, a former Consul in Syria’s Aleppo, former Ambassador to Israel, a former Permanent Representative of Turkey to NATO and then to the UN in Geneva.

Apart from Director General Üzümcü obviously having some remarkably useful inside tracks, Syria’s neighbour, Turkey, is the sole Middle East NATO Member State (never mind it has no connection to the North Atlantic, being set amid the Mediterranean, Aegean, Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.)

NATO is certainly not asleep at the wheel when it comes to Syria, as neither are the European Union, which Turkey – in spite of being “Gateway to the Orient” with the majority of the country in it – also aspires to be a member. Britain and France are, of course, EU Members, joined as one with Turkey in meddling in Syria.

NATO has long sought footholds further east. In an enlightening letter quoted over the years in these columns, but worthy of revisiting, on June 26, 1979, General Alexander Hague, on his retirement as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, wrote to the then Secretary General, Joseph Luns.

The focus then, of course, was in the context of the Cold War; however, the regional geography and the diplomatic skills of President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Syria crisis make the tactics outlined again starkly relevant, especially as President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have arguably been diplomatically eclipsed to near irrelevance.

The US-EU-NATO aspirations for the Baghdad-Damascus road to lead to Tehran (diplomatic “break through” or not) should never be underestimated. Neither, indeed, as has been demonstrated since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, the desire to encircle Russia as confirmed by encroachment of US-NATO bases at astonishing speed and with equal chutzpah.

The tactics in the NATO letter are arguably as relevant to aims today as when it was written, albeit targets, circumstances, field of play (or planned war) widened. The penultimate paragraphs read:

We should constantly bear in mind the necessity of continuously directing attention to the … threat and of further activising our collaboration with the mass media.

If argument, persuasion and impacting the media fail, we are left with no alternative but to jolt the faint hearted in Europe through the creations of situations, country by country, as deemed necessary, to convince them where their interests lie.

The course of actions which we have in mind may become the only sure way of securing the interests of the West.

Back to the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. Norwegian Fredrik Heffermehl, jurist, writer, translator, former Vice President of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, amongst numerous other prestigious international appointments, has long been a thorn in the side of the Norway based Nobel Committee.

Heffermehl has argued in his published study, “The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted”, that the Norwegian Parliament had distorted Alfred Nobel’s intention for the Prize. His researches found numerous academic studies that supported his thesis. The Norwegian Parliament and the Nobel Committee emphatically did not. His dissertation, however, has been published and expanded in Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, and Russian.  In December 2011 it was endorsed by Michael Nobel, of the Nobel Family Association, who supported Heffermehl in his assertion that on their present course, Norwegian politicians might lose their control of the Peace Prize.

Norway is, of course, in the NATO “family”. Interesting is the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The Nobel website stipulates:

Deadline for submission. The Committee bases its assessment on nominations that must be postmarked no later than February 1each year … … In recent years, the Committee has received close to 200 different nominations for different nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. The number of nominating letters is much higher, as many are for the same candidates.

So who, in the year to February 1, 2013 rushed to nominate the near unheard of OPCW? And is it conceivable there might have been some accommodation with the date (heaven forbid!)

Well, unless you are very young, you may never know.  There is a while to wait:

“The names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later”, states the Nobel website.

It might be worth noting that the rotating Members of the Executive Council for the OPCW for 2012-2013 include countries which have done more than a little meddling in the affairs of Syria, including France, the UK and US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Norway is also on the year’s Council.

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister, Hugh Robertson, sent enthusiastic congratulations to the OPCW on their Award, adding: “The UK is providing an initial contribution £2million to support the work of the OPCW in Syria and we stand ready to provide further assistance.”

Robertson also lauds the OPCW, referring to: “The recent use of chemical weapons by the regime in Syria …” an entirely unproven and arguably, even libelous, allegation.

Speculation, however, as to how another surprising Nobel Peace Prize came about is vacuous. In fifty years, though, it is worth a bet that honest historians will be shaking their heads in disbelief.

Another Nobel, another farce

Oh, and should you have missed: Monsanto and Syngenta, this same month, won the World Food Prize — dubbed the “Nobel Prize for Agriculture”.

We live in very strange times.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.