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Fri, Oct. 18

'Ignominious' should replace 'Nobel' in prize's name

Alfred Nobel must have been a good man, full of good intentions. The science and literature prizes named for him recognize legitimate achievement in these disciplines.

I do not doubt Nobel's sincerity in establishing a "peace prize" to honor people who pursue peace, even though it sprang from his guilt at inventing dynamite.

Too bad he didn't give us sufficient guidance about what peace looks and feels like. The committee now in charge of distributing the money and awarding the medal with Nobel's likeness on it apparently doesn't understand real peace, either. If its members did, they would not have selected the likes of Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger and, recently, former President Jimmy Carter, who builds houses much better than he builds peaceful relations between rival tribes, tongues and nations.

In geopolitical terms, peace on Earth does not come from diplomatic goodwill toward tyrannical men. It usually follows a war that settles profound differences on the battlefield and vanquishes the evil regime. That is what happened when the United States fought and won a hot war against Germany and Japan and a cold war against the Soviet Union.

The greatest obstacle to peace in our time, or in any time, has been people who misdiagnose evil people and evil regimes. Such people believe they can appease evil. In fact, good people must vanquish evil in every generation. The only way to do it is to oppose evil deliberately and forcefully.

We need an award for the well intentioned but self-deceived. Let's call it the Ignominious Appeasement Award. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize, this award will be easy to define. To appease means "to buy off an aggressor by concessions, usually at the sacrifice of principles." Ignominious means "dishonorable; deserving of shame or infamy; despicable."

Does this not describe what happened in America's dealings with North Korea? In the Clinton administration's 1994 agreement with Pyongyang (the one sealed by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who danced a celebratory jig in front of North Korean security guards), North Korea promised to freeze nuclear weapons development in exchange for two light-water reactors with primary financing from Japan and South Korea. The United States further promised to provide free fuel oil to help meet North Korea's energy needs. Work was well under way on the reactors when Pyongyang admitted last week it was not living up to its end of the deal and, in fact, had been moving ahead all along toward building a nuclear bomb.

In other words (surprise!) Communist dictators lie. Jimmy Carter helped broker this deal. Carter expressed surprise that the late Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev lied to him after Brezhnev ordered Soviet troops to invade and occupy Afghanistan in December 1979. Undeterred by a lying Soviet dictator, Carter pressed on to work his magic with North Korea and saw his (and America's) pocket picked again.

The fault in this equation is that good people think they can make bad people good if the good people give the bad people something, mostly economic aid and a teaspoon of "understanding" to flavor the corrupted brew. We could fill a hall of infamy with political, diplomatic, religious, academic and intellectual leaders who have put their faith in appeasement to forestall war, often seeing a worse war come about as a result of their naiveté.

The Nobel Prize includes a $1 million award for the recipient. Cash could be part of the Ignominious Peace Prize, too. It wouldn't be a cash award — it would be a fine. The recipient would pay a penalty for being so ignorant of the history of appeasement that he would risk the lives and freedom of others in a futile and counterproductive quest for "peace." The fine would go to the families of people these regimes wrongly imprisoned or executed as partial propitiation for the naiveté of do-gooders who ought to have known better.

Jimmy Carter would be the first recipient of the Ignominious Peace Prize. Let's fine him $1 million so he can break even, which is more than the world is going to do because some stupidly trusted North Korea to abide by a treaty.

(W-mail Cal Thom at

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