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A "Radical Idea" Reversed: Author Says Nobel Committee Has Betrayed Founder's Anti-Military Intent

For years, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee has faced criticism over its secrecy and selections, perhaps most notably in 1973 when Henry Kissinger won the award. Leading the critique of the committee has been Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman gets a chance to sit down with Heffermehl to discuss the selection of the European Union for this year's prize.

"Since [the committee is] very devoted to the NATO alliance and to the United States foreign policy," Heffermehl says, "the prize has come to serve the exact opposite of what it was intended to serve ... to support the work for breaking the military tradition and creating global peace or demilitarized global peace order. It's a very radical idea."

Heffermehl is past president of Norwegian Peace Council and a member of the board of the International Peace Bureau, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910. He is author of the book, "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted."

Before Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, died on Dec. 10, 1896, he wrote in his will that his fortune was to be used to give out annual prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Heffermehl reads Nobel's will and argues the Norwegian Nobel Committee has illegally ignored Nobel's will.

Hundreds of Norwegians held a torch-lit march in Oslo on Sunday to criticize the selection of the European Union for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Its member countries account for one-third of global arms exports.

"It is not only the [E.U.] member states that do export weapons, and it is not only the member states facilitating the weapons industry, but it is also the E.U., on an institutional level, and that is the main reason, at least, I'm here to contradict this prize," says Hedda Langemyr, the director of the Norwegian Peace Council.

On Sunday, Democracy Now! spoke with with supporters and critics of the European Union across Oslo. "When we heard the Nobel Prize for peace would be given to the European Union, we first thought it was a joke," says Greek lawmaker Dimitris Kodelas of the left-wing opposition group Syriza during an interview at the Oslo Peace House.

"Especially because this comes in days when many the people of south Europe are living with the results of a financial war in their countries, are turning into colonies of debt with the private citizens and looted national wealth," Kodelas said.

Over the years, Democracy Now! has interviewed many of the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Click here to watch these interviews.

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