Of all the Nobel Prizes, the one that gives rise to the most doubts is the Peace Prize. Nobels in the sciences and in economics are for achievements recognized by others in the field. The Peace Prize is political and wildly subjective, sometimes given for work that has nothing to do with “peace,” or used to promote the political side that the Norwegian judges favor. Yassir Arafat, before bin Laden the world’s foremost terrorist, shared a prize (with Rabin and Peres) for promoting peace by signing the Oslo Accords, which accords represented a stunning diplomatic victory for the “Palestinians.” The left-wing Norwegians were eager to forget all the terrorist attacks by Arafat’s men and to honor him in order that he might continue “on the path of peace.” Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” although his main diplomatic effort, that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal, also included, as is now known, all sorts of side deals favorable to Iran, that he made while keeping Congress largely in the dark.
There was Anwar Sadat, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for graciously agreeing to receive back the entire Sinai from Israel as part of a peace settlement. Sadat was later murdered by a Muslim fanatic who failed to realize what a diplomatic coup Sadat had pulled off as a veritable Prince of Peace. There was Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian female activist, who has worked for women’s rights in Iran, where Islamic misogyny is in full flower. Her Nobel hasn’t protected her; she now lives in London where, she now insists, she was wrong: she used to push for reform from within Iran, but has concluded that no reform is possible with the current regime, and women will continue to suffer in Iran until the regime is overthrown.
There was Malala Yousefzai, who worked for the right of girls in Pakistan to get an education, not something many Muslim males in that country favor, including the one who shot her through the head (she survived). There was a Nobel Peace Prize shared by Mohammed Yunus for his attempts to spread microloans, in order to help the poor start businesses. Mohammed el Baradei won for his efforts, as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which shared the prize with him, “to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that the Agency’s monitoring of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in order to make sure it is used in the safest possible way.” Some American officials believed he was engaged in communications with the Iranians who were suspect. Of course, although he was dealing mostly with weapons programs in Iran and Iraq, two very aggressive states, El Baradei has accused Israel of being the biggest threat to the Middle East because of its nuclear weapons. Israel has repeatedly said it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to any conflict, but that’s not good enough for El Baradei. He would like to force Israel to rid itself of nuclear weapons, but Israel, unsurprisingly, is not impressed with his suggestion and is not about to commit suicide to please the likes of Mohamed el Baradei.