You’ve read the title by now; the question I have raised speaks for itself. And as is the case in most affairs centered around Donald Trump, such a simple question has quite a complex answer. Please allow me to take a break from covering the U.S. election this week and dive into it.
The criterion for winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is outlined in the will of Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel. Since 1901, the prize has been awarded annually to “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.” Winners over the years include Martin Luther King Jr., “Night” author Elie Wiesel and four U.S. presidents. The winner of this year’s award will be announced in Oslo, Norway, on Friday, Oct. 9.
Of course, the question at hand here is, “What aspect of Nobel’s criteria has Trump embodied this year that justifies giving him the prize?” His nomination, submitted last week by Christian Tybring-Gjedde of Norway’s Progress Party, came on the heels of the historic Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal. The terms of this deal officially normalize relations between the historically hostile nations, who will exchange embassies for the first time and pledge to keep the peace.
Trump, apparently running on a diplomatic high, announced a similar peace deal between Israel and Bahrain just days later. He hosted the leaders of all three countries at the White House on Tuesday to sign both agreements (Israel-UAE and Israel-Bahrain), thus bringing three key American allies in the region together. While Trump’s exact role at the negotiating table will be subject to scrutiny, there is no denying that this is an impressive achievement.
But it doesn’t take a political analyst to know that Trump has been dropping the ball on the home front for quite some time now. Seemingly right from the start, the president understood the severity of the impending outbreak, calling it “deadly stuff” as early as Feb. 7. And with the release of Bob Woodward’s “Rage” this week, more uncomfortable details surrounding Trump’s handling of the virus will likely continue to surface.
I suppose I have now covered the greatest argument against awarding Trump a Nobel Prize. There are massive cases to be made both for and against his nomination, but the true answer of whether Trump “deserves” the prize comes down to how much weight we assign to his respective foreign and domestic policies. Can you deny rewarding a man who brought two Arab nations to cease their decades of hostility with Israel in a single month? At the same time, can you defend rewarding a “peace” prize to a man whose carelessness has subsequently led to the deaths of nearly 200,000 Americans?
And if this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded to Trump, then who should receive it? There are cases to be made for various people and organizations, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the World Health Organization. However, giving the prize to Trump could actually be long overdue. In 2018, he became the first sitting president to hold a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. And earlier this year, Trump authorized the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, moving the 18-year conflict into its final phase.
Does any of this erase the damage caused by COVID-19 in America? Of course not. If I held a seat on that Norwegian committee, I certainly would not vote for Trump to receive the award. If he wins it this year, I will be as shocked as the rest of us. To briefly provide an answer to the question I have teased all along: “Not now, but not never.” But if you can appreciate great diplomacy for what it is, it is possible that we will see things differently a few years down the road.
What’s next? More about Trump … After all, he has to debate Joe Biden in 12 days, and I would be silly not to preview it.
Have a great week, and happy fall!