Published May 10, 2018 in The Hill
For President Trump’s efforts in bringing the Koreas together for potentially game-changing peace talks, 18 House Republicans have formally nominated him for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
“We can think of no one more deserving of the committee’s recognition in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world,” they wrote in their nomination letter.
Their move comes after South Korean president Moon Jae-in made the same recommendation: “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” he said.
If the Nobel Committee’s track record is any guide, however, Trump can forget it.
It’s not because he doesn’t deserve it. To the contrary: It looks increasingly as if he may very well earn it. His firm and unrelenting application of economic, political, diplomatic and rhetorical pressure on North Korea and its patron, China, has created a new regional dynamic, spurring a series of positive moves from Pyongyang.
A day after Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, North Korean president Kim Jong Un released three American prisoners, whom the president personally welcomed home when they landed on U.S. soil in the wee hours.
Kim had already suspended nuclear and ballistic missile tests, announced that international observers would be permitted to monitor the closure of the North’s only known nuclear testing site, joined Moon in stepping across their border, pledged to end hostile acts against the South, and offered to negotiate his nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang has made similar vows of cooperation and disarmament in the past, only to continue to advance its nuclear programs.
Unlike previous presidential Charlie Browns, however, Trump isn’t falling for North Korea’s Lucy-with-the-football scam. The president will soon discover the level of Kim’s sincerity when they come face-to-face for a historic summit in the coming weeks.
Yet the fact remains that the official end of the Korean war and the possible denuclearization of the North may be in sight because of Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure,” including his often-mocked but effective rhetorical flame-throwing. Kim understands there is a new, no-nonsense global sheriff on duty who has zero tolerance for little tyrants with big arsenals.
Hence the Nobel chatter, which Trump understandably finds flattering but is a bit premature. President Obama received the prize in 2009 for merely drawing breath. Trump must actually deliver concrete results to gain the committee’s serious consideration.
The bigger problem, however, is that even if Trump were to single-handedly usher in permanent world peace, the likelihood that he will be honored with the prize is slim.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects each year’s recipient, is the pinnacle of global elitism. Since it began bestowing the prize in 1901, it has never demonstrated an appreciation for pathbreaking American conservatives, much less American disrupters in the Trumpian model.
President Ronald Reagan did not receive the prize despite bringing the Soviet empire to its knees, ending the Cold War and liberating millions from the iron grip of communist oppression. The socialist leader who had fought to preserve that brutally unfree system, however, did receive it: Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1990.
President Richard Nixon was also snubbed despite setting the parameters of an ultimately brief ceasefire in Vietnam. The Nobel committee, however, did bestow it on his designated negotiator, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (along with his North Vietnamese communist counterpart, Le Duc Tho). Kissinger was a brilliant strategist and diplomat, but there would have been no ceasefire without his boss conceiving and ordering it.
Surprisingly, President Bill Clinton was also ignored by the committee in 1994 despite facilitating peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat which resulted in the Oslo Accords. (The inclusion of Arafat — active, mass-murdering terrorist that he was — apparently did not cause the committee much, if any, distress.) It must have further incensed Clinton that his own vice president, Al Gore, received the award in 2007 for his work on “man-made climate change.”
Over the years, the Nobel committee has bestowed the prize on incredibly worthy individuals — Martin Luther King Jr., Lech Walesa, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, among others. But its European sensibility, elitist orientation and left-leaning political bias has meant that American conservatives need not apply. And Trump — a firebrand famous for “America First” priorities, wholesale rejection of the elite ruling class and an over-the-top style — likely appalls them. Former NBA star and FOK (friend of Kim) Dennis Rodman has a better shot of scoring a Nobel.
I hope I’m wrong. If Trump achieves real progress toward a historic peace deal, I hope the Nobel committee will see past its historical and ideological biases. If it doesn’t, however, the president should know that he’s in the extraordinarily good company of those who lack that gold medal but have something far more valuable: legacies of truly transformative leadership.