The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing "increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.
I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.
There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize - Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Monnet-Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a "member of the family," in the European Community.
Nobel's Will questioned
There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.
Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel's last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn't following Alfred Nobel's wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.
Nobel's will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”
There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was - and is - the exclusive intention of the prize.
EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.
Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize
"Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries". (Johan Galtung)
The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.
Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia - as ”peace broker”.
My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd). In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO's 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the "architect" of the plan behind the separation of now "quasi-independent" Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent. Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.
About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:
“Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source “How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won”by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)
The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: “Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn't matter if Paraguay hasn't recognized," Ahtisaari said. "Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters." This is in line with Ahtisaari's role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn't have money that opinion doesn't matter.
I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that "Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries". My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as "peace fixer" for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.
EU's role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future
Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU's role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.
Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.
U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.
The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don't understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.Hard vs. Soft Power Hard PowerSoft PowerSpectrum of behaviorsCommand, coercion and inducementAgenda-setting, attraction and co-optMost likely resourcesForce, sanctions and paymentsInstitutions, values, culture and policies
EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.
Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully
I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.
The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.
The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.
EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world's second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.
Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU's soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.
More e.g. in my related articles:
Nobel: “Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” - and more specific about Ahtisaari's mediator tactics in my article “500.000 bodies or sign” -headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection
Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?
U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution
Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia
Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis