The Reagan Prize - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Reagan Prize

It’s time for the Reagan Peace Prize.

Actually, it’s past time.

The Nobel Peace Prize for President Obama — for which he was nominated after barely two weeks in office — merely illustrates once again what has been apparent for not just the last few years but at least ninety years. The Nobel, the legacy of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, has become essentially worthless, a charade for left-wing Norwegian politicians to award like-minded liberals and liberalism under the guise that the award in some objective fashion determines an individual’s contributions to peace.

It’s easy to cite the current story. Obama, today, Al Gore yesterday, Jimmy Carter the day before that and surely Bill Clinton and Hillary some day to come. Reagan? Thatcher? Pope John Paul II? George W. Bush? Of course not.

But there’s more here, much more, which bespeaks the need for a Reagan Peace Prize.

The Nobel is not a fake — although it risks the charge in the sense that it presents itself as something it is not. Which is to say, an objective “but of course!” selection of an individual or group that has actually secured peace or at least advanced the cause. The Nobel is quite genuine — it is an award for leftists, for leftism and a leftist worldview of what peace is and how that peace is achieved. Not to be lost in the commotion here is that the decision to give the award to Obama was made by a group of Norwegian parliamentarians dominated by socialists.

The real question that needs to be asked is: Has the Nobel Peace Prize summoned forth those who have actually produced peace? Has the liberal-left wing view of how to achieve peace, as practically enacted by various Nobel Peace Prize winners, worked as advertised? The answer, overwhelmingly (they did manage a nod to Polish anti-Communist crusader Lech Walesa), is an embarrassingly emphatic no. Let’s take a look at some of the more stellar if now conveniently forgotten examples.

On September 1, 1939, World War II exploded , with the Germans invading Poland. The entire story of this global horror than unfolds over the course of the next six murderous years, the conclusion of which in turn bequeathed the next six decades of the nuclear-tipped Cold War.

Where were the Nobel Peace Prize winners chosen by Norwegians in the run-up to all of this? How did the world ever find itself in this ghastly situation in the first place if the Prize winners were so effective at what they were doing? Who were these recipients, what did they do that won them the prize — and most importantly, why didn’t they succeed?

Here are some of them.

1919, Woodrow Wilson — Wilson, the sitting President of the United States at the time he received his prize, is without doubt the most famous recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in the period that followed World War I and leading up to World War II. He won the prize, according to the Nobel Committee, for his work on the Treaty of Versailles, specifically including the League of Nations. What happened with all of this? The Treaty of Versailles failed, its signature accomplishment to blame World War I on the Germans (the so-called “War Guilt” clauses) and demand crippling financial reparations along with territorial concessions. The Treaty’s real success was in laying the groundwork for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Likewise the League of Nations proved an embarrassing failure, Wilson completely unable to negotiate America’s role in the League with the U.S. Senate.

Nobel Winner Failure: Wilson won his prize for a series of liberal foreign policies that directly set the world on the path to World War II and the Holocaust. Wilson’s peace strategy, rewarded by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, failed.

1925, Austen Chamberlain — Chamberlain was the British Foreign Secretary and half-brother to Neville Chamberlain, who years later would become the British Prime Minister famously advocating appeasement with Hitler. Austen Chamberlain won his Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating what is known to history as the Locarno Pact in 1925. The Locarno Pact, said Austen Chamberlain, was “the beginning, and not the end, of the noble work of appeasement in Europe.” The Nobel Prize Committee agreed, and awarded Chamberlain the Peace Prize for an agreement that opened the door

Nobel Winner Failure: The Locarno Pact, hailed by liberals of the day, caved in to the German demand to leave its eastern border open for revision, humiliating Poland and setting up an inevitable German invasion — which finally came in 1939. As Austen Chamberlain noted, it was a deliberate act of appeasement. Sniffed he: “No British government would ever risk the bones of a single British grenadier for the Polish corridor.” Chamberlain’s appeasement pushed Europe and the world further down the path to war. Austen Chamberlain’s worldview, rewarded enthusiastically by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, failed.

1929, Frank B. Kellogg — American Secretary of State for President Calvin Coolidge. Kellogg won the award for the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Briand was Aristide Briand, the French Foreign minister who had already won his Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for his role in negotiating the Locarno Pact, the treaty that won the 1925 award for Austen Chamberlain. Kellogg-Briand, signed in 1928, was perhaps the most fatuous example of liberal foreign policy concepts abroad in the world. It banned war as “an instrument of national policy.” Sixty-three nations signed this treaty, including Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union along with the United States, Britain, and France.

Nobel Winner Failure: Kellogg-Briand was an utter failure, as was soon evidenced with the rise of Hitler and Germany’s drive to re-arm. Japan, another signatory, invaded Manchuria in 1931, a mere two years after Kellogg got his prize.

1931, Nicholas Murray Butler — Butler was the President of Columbia University and an ardent left-wing peace activist. He was given the award not only for his strong support of the Kellogg-Briand pact but his well-publicized work in the cause of outlawing war. Unable to travel to Oslo, Norway for the traditional ceremony to receive his prize, Butler was lauded by Halvdan Kocht, a member of the Nobel Committee who, tellingly, was a respected professor of history at the University of Oslo. Professor Kocht praised Murray for being a staunch supporter of the “solidly developed foundation” for international peace that was Wilson’s League of Nations, Chamberlain’s Locarno Pact, and Kellogg and Briand’s disarmament treaty.

Nobel Winner Failure: Butler’s theories of how to bring peace to the world, epitomized by Kocht’s specifically citing what are now regarded as three of the worst foreign policy failures in 20th century history, were predictably cited as exactly what they proved not to be — “a solidly developed foundation” for world peace. Once again the Nobel Peace Prize was handed out to a proponent of a left-wing worldview, now actual treaties, that wound up pushing the world closer to war.

1934, Arthur Henderson — Henderson was a former British Foreign Secretary (succeeding Austen Chamberlain.) Like Chamberlain, Henderson was a strenuous proponent of disarmament, and as such was made president of the Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932-1934. Now dealing with a Germany headed by Adolf Hitler, Henderson persisted in his belief that a disarmament strategy would bring peace. The Germans, of course, finally walked out and the conference collapsed.

Nobel Winner Failure: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize anyway, with no one seeing anything amiss in the fact of Henderson’s failed strategy, Henderson persisted as what the Nobel Committee today admiringly praises as the “embodiment” of disarmament. In his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Henderson stoutly insisted he could not “conceive” that his approach to peace had meant failure. It did. The Nobel Peace Prize was again given to someone whose actions aided Hitler in believing the rest of Europe was unable and unwilling to stop him. Within a matter of years Hitler was fully armed and ready to begin his attack.

By 1939 the Nobel Peace Prize Committee stopped handing out the award. The Nobel Peace Prize would have no winners for the next five years. With ironic good reason. The world was ablaze in destruction and death as a direct result of the repeated failures of Nobel Peace Prize winners. In one of the more ironic notes of the looming war, the future of Norway itself now teetered on the brink. Then, darkness descended.

On April 9, 1940, Norway was invaded by the Nazis. Political activity in Norway was banned. Members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee fled. Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian fascist (“the Hitler of Norway”) whose name today is synonymous with traitor, took control of the country for Hitler as some 350,000 German troops settled in to occupy the country. The Nobel Peace Prize headquarters itself barely escaped a physical takeover of its property, a fate avoided only after much secret negotiation with Sweden. (Norway and Sweden were once linked politically, so the Nobel Foundation in Sweden owned the Nobel property in Oslo, a point that saved the building, after intense negotiations, from having the Nazis literally move in.) In the sixth year, operating through Sweden, the Nobel Committee managed to name the International Red Cross — a certainly admirable group that had much work on its hands coping with the horror bequeathed by the work of previous Nobel Prize winners.

Perhaps no image is more vividly symbolic as to the end results of the philosophy guiding the Nobel Peace Prize than that of Nobel officials, their Committee members in hiding having fled Oslo, humiliated as a Nazi officer strolls through the Oslo headquarters of the Nobel Peace Prize, eyeballing it as a Nazi acquisition. This while Quisling threatens a Nazi takeover of the Prize Committee itself, run by Nazi approved members of Quisling’s government.

The in-your-face, up-front and all too inevitable result of the policies honored by those Nobel Peace Prizes was quite dramatically at hand for the Nobel officials themselves.

The resumption of the regular process for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize did not resume until 1945 — after the Allied invasion of Norway, the capitulation of the Germans, Quisling, and their Norwegian agents — and the not coincidental arrival of 30,000 American and British troops.

WHICH BRINGS US BACK to the idea of a Reagan Peace Prize.

The hard cold facts of history illustrate that the peace through strength policies initiated by President Reagan were a success. His belief in the importance of human freedom, in directly opposing tyranny and protecting liberty, combined with the maintenance and, when needed, projection of a strong military, ended the Cold War and the “evil empire” that was the Soviet Union. Reagan’s strategy freed millions of East Europeans enslaved since the end of the Second World War, which in turn was brought on by the inexcusably wrong-headed, naive if well-intentioned policies of one Nobel Peace Prize winner after another.

Without question the world is divided today — as it has been before. Now as in the period between the two world wars, the globe brims with despots, criminals, and evildoers. Now as then the cry goes up for Americans to just go along with the values of a presumed global majority, values that beckon as enticingly as they did in the days of the 1920s and 1930s yet historically have led to terrible tragedy. Now as then the fight is on over the issue of how best to obtain not just peace, but peace and freedom. And now as then, the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out to those whose philosophy of peace-seeking is at odds with the hard reality of achieving it. Reagan, who lived through the period when all these Nobel Peace Prizes were being handed out, understood that freedom and liberty was a necessary component to having peace.

It is not for nothing that President Obama, Al Gore, and Jimmy Carter have won Nobel Peace Prizes. They are in fact the lineal descendants of Woodrow Wilson, Austen Chamberlain, Frank Kellogg, Aristide Briand, Nicholas Murray Butler, and Arthur Henderson. Inheritors of a liberal worldview of how to obtain and keep the peace — a worldview that is always widely acclaimed for its aspirations but never held accountable for its abysmal if frequently not murderous results.

Not in this group, not from these award-givers, would the names of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush, or any of hundreds of less well known but equally committed activists for a real peace ever be found. It is not for nothing that the British winners of the Nobel Peace Prize do not include the name Winston Churchill.

It’s time for conservatives to take another step forward. To act.

Just as the Heritage Foundation was created to counterbalance the liberal Brookings Institution in the world of think tanks. Or Fox News created to scoop up market share from the liberal broadcast networks and provide the fair and balanced counter. Or as talk radio answers the liberal media that is the New York Times, the Washington Post and so on

Now it is time to create the Ronald Wilson Reagan Prize for Peace. To privately fund it just a little bit more than the Nobel — which awards recipients with $1.4 million. The Reagan Prize, since it would have higher standards than the Nobel (the winners have to actually have advanced peace and freedom in some fashion) should have a higher price tag. If the Nobel is $1.4 million, the Reagan should be at least $1.5 million. Why? To make the point, the award for the Reagan always kept higher than that for the Nobel because the bar for achievement should be higher.

Who would decide? Just as the Nobel Peace Prize is decided exclusively by Norwegians, the Reagan Prize Committee would be exclusively Americans, a people by definition formed from every population on the face of the earth, not just one. It would be a panel of conservatives that might include — but not be limited — to members of the U.S. Congress, drawn as well from the world of entrepreneurship, journalism, entertainment and elsewhere. The process? To be worked out.

Who would win the award? What kind of potential nominees could make the grade? A wide-ranging pool is out there around the globe from former heads of state like George W. Bush and Lady Thatcher to lesser known but influential figures in various governments, think tanks, private sector positions and, yes, religious groups. Surely the three Iranian dissidents known only by their initials in current news reports, all identified as being sentenced to death for protesting Iran’s rigged elections, would be on the list of potential nominees for a Reagan Prize. All three, in a pattern Reagan would well recognize, have been sentenced to death for their incredibly brave work for peace and freedom.

Where should the Reagan Prize be awarded to its winners? Berlin, Germany.

Why Berlin?

Because Berlin is at once a symbol for two very different approaches to achieving and maintaining peace.

It is first the immutable symbol of the failures of Nobel Peace Prize winners and the philosophy the Prize honored from 1919 to 1939, and honors to this day. It was Berlin, recall, that was still under the boot heel of communism when future Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter said in 1977 there need not be an “inordinate fear” of communism. Yet Carter was awarded his 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his alleged understanding of how to “advance democracy and human rights.”

At the same time Berlin has emerged as the symbolic, thriving heart of one of the greatest triumphs resulting from Reagan’s philosophy of how to win a real peace. While it is and always will be the symbol of Nobel Peace Prize failures, it is also now and forever the symbol of Reagan’s successes; the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Soviet Union that built it, and the Cold War that made that Wall and all it stood for possible. It is a symbol of peace, now a glittering jewel of freedom, the great triumph over a Cold War that itself was the outgrowth of the failed policies launched by all those Nobel Peace Prize laureates from 1919 on down to 1939.

But the real point?

It’s time to end the monopoly of the Nobel Peace Prize, the prize that is in fact historically and relentlessly dedicated in the modern era to rewarding the fatuous leftist ideas and false values of leftist global diplomacy. A philosophy that not only did not bring peace to the world — but never will. Not when tried by Woodrow Wilson, Austen Chamberlain, Frank Kellogg, Aristide Briand, Nicholas Murray Butler and Arthur Henderson and others from 1919 to 1939. Or Jimmy Carter in 2002, Al Gore in 2007, and now Barack Obama in 2009.

It’s time to award real prestige to those who achieve real peace.

It’s time for the Reagan Prize.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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