Nobel Committee Gets Peace Prize Wrong Yet Again

The Nobel Peace Prize has devolved into a prize for random good things that don’t offend a culture dedicated to endless war, writes David Swanson.

Portrait of Alfred Nobel by Gösta Florman, undated. (The Royal Library of Sweden, Wikimedia Commons)

By David Swanson
World BEYOND War

The Nobel Committee has yet again awarded a peace prize that violates the will of Alfred Nobel and the purpose for which the prize was created, selecting recipients who blatantly are not “the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”

That there are numerous candidates who plausibly meet the criteria and could have been appropriately awarded a Nobel Peace Prize is established by the list of nominees published by Nobel Peace Prize Watch, and by the War Abolisher Awards which were given out two days ago to highly qualified persons and organizations selected from dozens of nominees. Three awards were presented. The Lifetime Organizational War Abolisher of 2021: Peace Boat. The David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher of 2021: Mel Duncan. The War Abolisher of 2021: Civic Initiative Save Sinjajevina.

The trouble with the Nobel Peace Prize has long been and remains that it often goes to warmongers, that it often goes to good causes that have little direct connection to abolishing war, and that it often favors the powerful rather than those in need of funding and prestige to support good work.

This year it has been awarded to another good cause that has little direct connection to abolishing war. Although virtually every topic can be tangentially connected to war and peace, the avoidance of actual peace activism intentionally misses the point of the prize’s creation by Alfred Nobel and the influence of Bertha von Suttner.

The Nobel Peace Prize has devolved into a prize for random good things that don’t offend a culture dedicated to endless war.

This year it was awarded for journalism, last year for working against hunger. In past years it has been awarded for protecting children’s rights, teaching about climate change, and opposing poverty. These are all good causes and can all be connected to war and peace. But these causes should go find their own prizes.

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The Nobel Peace Prize is so devoted to awarding powerful officials and avoiding peace activism that it is often awarded to the wagers of wars, including Abiy Ahmed, Juan Manuel Santos, the European Union, and Barack Obama, among others.

At times the prize has gone to opponents of some aspect of war, advancing the idea of reforming even while maintaining the institution of war. These awards have come closest to the purpose for which the prize was created, and include the 2017 and 2018 prizes.

War Makers’ Propaganda

 Dec. 10, 2009: President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway. (White House)

The prize has also been used to advance the propaganda of some of the world’s major war makers. Awards like this year’s have been used to denounce violations of human rights in non-Western nations targeted in the weapons-funding propaganda of Western nations.

This record allows Western media outlets each year to speculate before the prize announcement on whether it will go to favorite propaganda topics, such as Alexei Navalny. The actual recipients this year are from Russia and the Philippines, Russia being the primary target of U.S. and NATO war preparations, including the primary excuse for the construction of new military bases in Norway.

Journalism, even antiwar journalism, can be found around the world. Violations of the rights of antiwar journalism can be found around the world. The most extreme case of violating the rights of one of the most impactful antiwar journalists is the case of Julian Assange. But there was never any question of the prize going to someone targeted by the U.S. and U.K. governments.

At a moment when the world’s largest weapons dealer, most frequent launcher of wars, dominant deployer of troops to foreign bases, greatest enemy of the International Criminal Court and the rule of law in international affairs, and supporter of oppressive governments — the U.S. government — is trumpeting a division between so-called democracies and non-democracies, the Nobel Committee has chosen to throw gas on this fire, declaring:

“Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ‘troll factories’ to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia. Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence, and murder.”

Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon, and U.S. President Joe Biden will be delighted with this selection — Biden far more in fact than with the awkwardness of being ridiculously given the prize himself (as some suggested  and was done with Barack Obama).

Also given the prize this year was a journalist from the Philippines already funded by CNN and by the U.S. government, in fact by a U.S. government agency often involved in funding military coups. It is worth noting that the Nobel Peace Prize was established to help fund peace activists in need of funding.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist and radio host. He is co-founder and executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a NobelPeace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

This article is from World BEYOND War.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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18 comments for “Nobel Committee Gets Peace Prize Wrong Yet Again

  1. robert e williamson jr
    October 10, 2021 at 14:30

    Not to be forgotten Mr. Swanson. Thank you for your masterful exposure of how a great idea has been ruined by ” popularity politics ” the result of boot licking and powerful lobbies “.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    October 10, 2021 at 10:10

    And nothing new…Barack Obama most certainly did NOT deserve the Nobel prize…Time to take politics out of this committee.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    October 9, 2021 at 20:20

    Henry Kissinger must have gotten his NP using dynamite! No matter nothing has changed that much. We called it progress I think.

    Speaking of so called progress how about those nuclear weapons.?

    Everyone should have listened to Niels Bohr who, soon after the end of the war, traveled the globe seeking audience with the worlds leaders to warm them of the perils of a nuclear weapons race. He had unique vision of seeing the dangers of, excessive costs of all things nuclear and those impact of costs on the quality of human life.

    No one cared, most not enough to even talk to him. Shameful!

    Niels Bohr deserves one every year if they intend to corrupt the system the way they have. He was a true visionary, and a man of peace.

    Thanks CN

  4. robert e williamson jr
    October 9, 2021 at 13:08

    The next time anyone has thoughts about the Nobel Peace Prize one might want to review David Otness’ comments here. I appreciate this new angle. thanks David.

    And remember the Pandora Papers. This investigation should expose the major facilitators of “tools in the tool kit of imperialism. ” The illegal offshore banking system for the super rich criminal. For surly the advantage of being able to conceal and move very large sums of money, keeping transactions secret is the way of the imperialist. These “special abilities” ensure he will stay at the top of the heap.

    The theory that when a system fails large masses of individuals, those individuals will develop there own system is key in understanding these illegal activities I speak of above.

    The evil ones engaged in these illegal practices include our own CIA which seems to have a very blurred vision of reality. Remember the Safari Club and the blue blooded Bush family.

  5. October 9, 2021 at 10:26

    Stopped being interested when Obama received the Nobel Prize before he had warmed the seat of his chair in the Oval Office.

  6. Charlotte Ruse
    October 9, 2021 at 06:43

    Expecting a genuine award signifying peace from elite imperialists is like saying billionaires are benevolent.

    • bobLich
      October 10, 2021 at 17:36

      LOL. Well said.

  7. Realist
    October 9, 2021 at 01:35

    You got that right, Mr. Swanson. Something sure stinks in Oslo and it’s not just lutefisk. The award committee should just stop being coy and give their Crackerjack Prize to AIPAC, Paul Wolfowitz, Victoria Nuland or someone they really admire.

  8. ToivoS
    October 9, 2021 at 01:04

    Probably the worst Nobel Peace prize was the one given to Theodore Roosevelt for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese war of 1904. That peace pact involved a special codicil, to encourage Japan to agree with Russia to stop the fighting, which was an agreement between the US and Japan, whereby the US would not object to Japan’s colonization of Korea if Japan would not object to the US colonization of the Philippines. That peace prize was even worse than the one O’bomber won.

  9. ks
    October 9, 2021 at 00:21

    It’s always been political:

    ‘According to Alfred Nobel’s will, the prize to champions of peace is to be awarded by a committee “of five persons, to be elected by the Norwegian Storting [Parliament]”. The rules subsequently adopted by the Storting state that the members of the Nobel Committee are elected for six years terms, and can be re-elected. As far as possible, the composition of the Committee is to reflect the relative strengths of the political parties in the Storting. The Committee chooses its own chairman and deputy chairman. The Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute serves as the Committee’s secretary.

    ‘In 2017 the Storting formally decided that sitting members of Parliament are not eligible for membership in the Norwegian Nobel Committee. ‘

    Jagland was a member of the Nobel Committee and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe when the EU was awarded the peace prize.

  10. Eric
    October 8, 2021 at 19:24

    You left out Henry Kissinger in the list of villainous Peace Prize recipients,
    but then there are so many war criminals to choose from …

    In addition to Assange, a worthy nominee with strong global support
    was the Henry Reeves Brigade, which has offered emergency
    medical services in dozens of countries around the world.

  11. bobLich
    October 8, 2021 at 17:52

    David Swanson, thank you for a sober discussion.

  12. rosemerry
    October 8, 2021 at 16:38

    Pathetic decision but not at all unexpected. Poor Nobel!!!

  13. Andrew Thomas
    October 8, 2021 at 16:13

    I remember a piece of dark humor from almost fifty years ago that ‘irony died the day Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize.’ The committee has had lots of help in its apparent mission to bayonet the dead in the intervening half century. Sad to say that it doesn’t even stand out amongst the other savagers of the corpse.

    • JohnA
      October 9, 2021 at 02:22

      And when Gorbachov got the Nobel Prize for peace, the joke was that he would never have got it for Economics. (And yes, I know the Economics one is not a proper Nobel as in related to Alfred).
      The Nobel for literature is also political. Handke was a worthy winner but continues to be castigated for his support for Yugoslavia against the Nato ‘responsibility to protect’ bombing of that country.

  14. jaycee
    October 8, 2021 at 15:43

    Not anything against the recipients, but for the Nobel Committee to use them to celebrate “independent journalism” or “speaking truth to power” at the exact same moment that Julian Assange rots in a maximum security dungeon is deaf, dumb and blind. It is a mockery of the purported ideals motivating the award, compromised as it has always been regardless. It is , if anything, an accurate reflection of where “we” – the so-called free or democratic west – are at right now.

  15. David Otness
    October 8, 2021 at 15:33

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after hearing this announcement, especially regarding the Russian. The CBC announced (once again) that Navalny was Vladimir Putin’s “main opposition” when in fact he gets around 2 to 4% of the vote; the Communist Party always beating him out by far.
    With Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg NATO’s ceremonial top dog, I suppose calling this the NATO-Nobel Peace Prize is not too much of a stretch, it’s just maintaining the corporate naming frenzy that has overtaken the western world in this Age of Neoliberalism.
    The Nobel Prize: just one more tool in imperialism’s tool kit.

    • JohnA
      October 9, 2021 at 02:24

      well, Alfred Nobel did make his fortune from dynamite!

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