In October 2009, when President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, you could hear a collective groan emanate from spectators across the political landscape.
The 44th president was still inside his first year in office and was honored for the plans he had for the future more than the accomplishments of the past. Delivering speeches in an articulate manner and spreading “hope & change!” does not a worthy recipient make. It was plain to see that too many in the international community were enamored with the young, idealistic leader, giving not much thought to whether he deserved such a recognition.
He did not.
Now we have another president who was swept into office by a similar cult of personality. We’re hearing that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, too.
On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed his opinion about the prize and Trump as the possible winner. Reuters reports:
“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon told a meeting of senior secretaries, according to a presidential Blue House official who briefed media.
In January, Moon said Trump “deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks. It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure”.
Moon’s Nobel Prize comment came in response to a congratulatory message from Lee Hee-ho, the widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, in which she said Moon deserved to win the prize, the Blue House official said.
Like the majority of people around the world, I appreciate the talks and what they mean for that troubled region of the planet. The meeting between the two leaders was a historical moment. We should not downplay its significance. We should also not treat it as a complete victory.
Since any sort of formal agreement, not to mention proof of peace, has yet to agreed upon/obtained, the best we can do is talk about what might happen and award the president according to that criteria. This attitude is not much different than what we saw nine years ago from the community of supporters around Barack Obama.
Another news source, The Columbus Dispatch, reported the words of the South Korean president this way, emphasis mine.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has shaken off a suggestion that he receive the Nobel Peace Prize, saying that U.S. President Donald Trump “can take the Nobel prize” as long as the Koreas receive peace in return.
Moon responded to the suggestion of Nobel glory by saying, “President Trump can take the Nobel prize. The only thing we need is peace,” according to the South’s presidential office.
Regardless of the wording, it is evident that Moon lists “peace” as a requirement for winning such an award. Since true and lasting peace remains a distant goal, presenting the Nobel Peace Prize to President Trump would be nothing more than a token of appreciation for his preliminary efforts. Positive and notable, yes; but not worthy of official recognition until the work is complete.
An ongoing problem among those Right of center is failing to apply standards to our own camp that we are quick to launch at the opposition. This consistency isn’t popular and can become quite uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Would we praise the suggestion that Barack Obama receives a prize for lofty future plans? We’ve been there, and we didn’t. In fact, it is mocked to this day. Why, when faced with a similar scenario, does the Right cheer it on? It’s quite simple: it’s one of their own. Somehow, that makes it a logical step in the right direction. In reality, this double standard only cheapens our principles.
We must strive to be better than that.
Even President Trump’s supporters, while arguing that he should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, make it quite clear that we have no reason to trust North Korea. In his piece at Fox News, Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies, Cen. for the National Interest, actually makes a great case for waiting.
It’s true that we won’t really know for weeks or months whether the North-South Korean summit will bring about better relations between the two Koreas and result in Kim getting rid of his small arsenal of nuclear weapons.
We shouldn’t naively believe any promises Kim makes without verifiable proof, because he has a history of lying. His promises may last as long as a snowman in August.
I’m no Pollyanna. I realize Kim will likely never agree to give up all his nuclear weapons – though he could agree to limits on his nuclear and missile programs and other actions to make him less of a threat to his neighbors and to the U.S.
And I realize that there is every reason to believe the inter-Korean summit was nothing more than a giant PR stunt on the world stage – big on photo ops and short on any real substance.
So, why do we desire to see the president prematurely receive a prize for brokering only a potential peace? Because our opponent has one on his shelf? I’m sorry, that’s not a good enough reason.
In many ways, Trump is the Right’s answer to Obama. Yes, the 45th president is more boisterous and easily gives in to spewing insults, but he is infected with an overblown ego just like his predecessor. Like the man before him, Donald Trump is admired by his uncritical fans as one who can do no wrong.
With the suggestion surrounding the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s seen as a leader whose future should be awarded before it’s even arrived.
I desperately hope that I’m incorrect about the hope for a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. I would enjoy being wrong about a matter which affects the world at large, not to mention the millions of men, women, and children residing there.
But the question of peace has yet to be answered and handing a gold medallion to President Trump won’t bring us any closer to a conclusion.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Kimberly Ross on Twitter: @southernkeeks.