THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Nobel Peace Prize; or Pissing on the Prose of Alfred B Nobel

When all else fails, read. Apparently, such Nobel pundits as Rush Limbaugh, Liz Cheney, and Glenn Beck don't really need to do that since it's much easier to fabricate the truth than to search for it, so I'm here to help them out. The Nobel Committee is very specific about its process. In the first instance, this is the nominating procedure for the Peace Prize:

Qualified Nominators
The right to submit proposals for the Nobel Peace Prize shall, by statute, be enjoyed by:

  1. Members of national assemblies and governments of states;
  2. Members of international courts;
  3. University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes;
  4. Persons who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize;
  5. Board members of organizations who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize;
  6. Active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; (proposals by members of the Committee to be submitted no later than at the first meeting of the Committee after February 1) and
  7. Former advisers appointed by the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

In other words, almost anyone associated with a university in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter) can nominate anyone for a Peace Prize. That would, of course, eliminate Limbaugh, Cheney, and Beck, since they're not associated with any university. The deadline for all nominations is February 1st and the "Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). The Committee's composition reflects the relative strengths of the political parties in the Storting, and is assisted by specially appointed expert advisers." The fact that it came as a "surprise" shouldn't have been because unlike leaks in Washington, Nobel announcements were, are and always will be, well, secret.

But the key thing in establishing who is awarded a Nobel Prize, regardless of category, is based upon Alfred Nobel's will in which he wrote the following:

The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part 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. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.

In the area of peace, Nobel was patently clear that the award should be given "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."

It should be patently obvious to anyone who has taken the time to read what the Nobel committee looks for and what Obama has attempted to do since his inauguration that his actions fall within the purview of what Alfred Nobel deemed awardable vis-à-vis his will which is the basis for the Nobel committee's decision. It's absolutely unconscionable that the negative reaction to a sitting US President for receiving the Nobel Award would cause the Nobel Committee to defend its decision. No other country on the face of the planet would react so negatively to the granting of such an award as to cause the committee chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland to say, "We simply disagree that he has done nothing...He got the prize for what he has done." Jagland then went on to say, "My response is only the judgment of the committee, which was unanimous."

He further added that the award to Obama followed the guidelines set forth by Alfred Nobel in his 1895 will. It is painfully apparent that such reactions are hedged in a kind of political hegemony promulgated by the far right that not only attempts to undermine Nobel's own dictate, but that presages a kind of vitriolic intolerance that undermines the entire principle on which the Peace Prize was founded and in large measure merely for the sake of corporate sponsorship. So, while Limbaugh, presumably immune to virus that is hubris, makes his case by screaming into a microphone and tugging at his polo shirt, the rest of us are left asking ourselves the question: Where's Ed Murrow when you need him?