By Henry Srebrnik, [Fredericton, NB] Daily Gleaner
On Oct. 9, we learned who won the Nobel Peace Prize. It wasn’t Donald Trump – though it should have been. Instead, it went to the UN World Food Programme, “for its efforts to combat hunger.”
Many people or organizations have been chosen since it was established in 1901, including some whom history later demonstrated were unworthy of it. Some recent recipients were activists whose work had little to do with relations between states.
In other cases, obvious candidates were bypassed, often for ideological reasons. Donald Trump was one of the latter.
The prize is awarded, according to the selection committee, “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.”
In September, Trump was nominated by Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian parliament, who lauded Trump for his efforts toward resolving protracted conflicts worldwide.
“I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” stated Tybring-Gjedde, citing Trump’s role in the establishment of relations between Israel and the Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
He also praised Trump for “creating new dynamics in other protracted conflicts, such as the Kashmir border dispute between India and Pakistan, and the conflict between North and South Korea.”
Trump brokered the Abraham Accords, the treaties between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, signed at the White House Sept.15. The documents represent a significant symbolic and substantive breakthrough in the relationships between Israel and the Arab world.
Included is a reference to the Arab and Jewish common heritage, as descendants of Abraham, and the need “to foster in the Middle East a reality in which Muslims, Jews, Christians and peoples of all faiths are committed to a spirt of coexistence, mutual understanding, and respect.”
As part of this deal, Israel agreed to suspend annexation of more Palestinian land in the West Bank. It enhances peaceful relations between Israel and moderate Arab states as well as a possible precursor to progress with the Palestinians.
Other countries, including Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, and Sudan, may eventually come on board. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, cautiously welcomed the agreement and Riyadh may eventually normalize relations with Israel. It also, of course, foils to some extent the ability of Iran to make mischief in the Persian Gulf.
Also, Israel and Lebanon have agreed to conduct negotiations on their mutual maritime border, with the U.S. as mediator.
The agreement was the most significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations since Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979 – for which Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat were jointly honoured with the peace prize.
And in 1994 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat received it for signing the Oslo Accords – which didn’t bring peace.
There are other accomplishments. Donald Trump brought the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia, two bitter enemies, to the White House on Sept. 4 to sign an agreement for economic cooperation.
Serbia agreed to move its embassy to Jerusalem, while Kosovo will be recognizing Israel and also planning to locate its embassy there. “It took decades because you didn’t have anybody trying to get it done,” Trump told Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.
The contrast with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, is telling. Obama gained the prize just a year after winning office, basically for aspirational speeches. The former secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, Geir Lundestad, admitted in 2015 that Obama failed to live up to expectations.
Last year’s recipient, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, was honoured for resolving the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. Commendable, but not as important as what Trump has achieved.
And unlike previous presidents, Trump has not blundered into new military conflicts. Very few American troops have been killed on his watch.So why didn’t Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize? Because he is reviled by a chattering class which differs from him ideologically, and which doesn't want to see him re-elected.