Malala Yousafzai, the European Union, John Hume and Mikhail Gorbachev - what do all four have in common? Why, it is only that they are part of the long list of recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, a prestigious honour, bestowed onto those who have worked tirelessly to secure a more peaceful society. And now it would seem there is talk of who might be deserving of the next Nobel Peace Prize, and one name stands out among the chatter. Donald Trump has been tipped as a potential candidate by right wing politicians across the world, including our very own Nigel Farage. But, in light of recent events, it might in fact be pertinent to consider Donald Trump as a contender for this highest honour, one that has only been bestowed on four of his predecessors. As the situation in North Korea cools down, and he head towards a historic peace summit between the two sides with public assurances from the North that there will be no further missile tests coming from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Things haven’t looked better on the peninsula in the long time, so would it not be fitting to pat Mr Trump on the back and reward him for this success?
No, it really wouldn’t be.
Let’s first look at the reasons why Donald Trump doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, with the most obvious being that Trump’s policies have really not fostered a peaceful society. The President’s budget proposal last year included a $52 billion hike in defence spending, including the US “war budget”. This is the not kind of proposal you would hope to come from a President expecting to receive a Prize given to groups like the Quakers, who famously refused to take part in wars to help the sick and the poor. Meanwhile Mr Trump’s budget cuts Medicaid, a program designed to help those who are poor and sick. Donald Trump’s world view, claiming the US should have kept Iraq’s oil as part of the “spoils of war” and his decision to bomb Syria before the official investigation aren’t going to convince many of his pacifist programme, either.
The Nobel Peace Prize is a judgment on both character and action, and Donald Trump as President has in both word and deed acted as the typically hawkish conservative. Trump clearly cannot be called a man of peace, and anyone who calls him that has clearly never witnessed the man or is deluded beyond help. Those calling for Trump to receive a Nobel Prize must have a political agenda behind their support, and it’s clear to see why. Donald Trump on the campaign trail had made commitments to policies like withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, only to send in more troops after coming to power. The Donald Trump many of them promoted in 2016 was a front for the Donald Trump that won the White House. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute power over the world’s largest military corrupts you into believing the use of the military is always a good idea. If the President were to win the Nobel Peace Prize before the 2020 election, his proponents could easily represent him to his base as the anti-interventionist, ‘America First’ pro-workers’ politician he ran as. And do you know what? With a Peace Prize under his belt, it would probably work.
However, the improvement in North Korea does perhaps warrant someone to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, but the question is who? If we look at the peace process in Ireland, perhaps David Trimble provides an answer. Trimble was the moderate leader of the UUP who, soon after winning the leadership of his party, defied what hard line voices were saying and moved to hold talks with his opposition, talks that eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement. His role in that negotiation is why he, and the aforementioned John Hume, won their Peace Prizes. So, we are perhaps looking for a newly elected politician who is ignoring the voices of hard liners and is seeking dialogue in North Korea. Of course, a peace prize has been awarded in the past for progress on the Korean peninsula, to Kim-Dae-Jung, then President of South Korea, for his willingness to engage in talks and success in cooling tensions between the two waring nations.
This precedent makes it clear that current President Moon-Jae-In deserves the peace prize. Jae-In has proven his worthiness for the award in the two ways Donald Trump has failed to. First, in action, halting a US defence program and sending $8 million in aid to the North, both signs of a serious desire to make amends with his belligerent neighbour. President Moon has insisted both sides should “make it happen” in respect to negotiations and agreements. Moon’s desire and apparent keenness to engage in a summit with Kim Jong-Un should be a testament to the fact that he wishes peace for his people and the world, despite the internal political criticism he is enduring as a result. Donald Trump’s claim to the prize, on the other hand, appears to be nothing more than posturing.
Of course, there are many people across the world who are not Moon-Jae-In or Donald Trump who can put forward a good argument as to why they should win the Nobel Peace Prize, and the choice should not be restricted to one issue or to the two men at the centre of it. But those who believe that Donald Trump truly deserves to be a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize must also consider Kim-Jong-Un. After all, if it only takes one move towards peace for a leader to be nominated, then Kim-Jong-Un’s cancelling of nuclear tests should surely be enough. Right?