Hashing Out the Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

—February 2, 2016

Well, the deadline for nominations for the 2016 Nobel Peace Price closed last night, and we believe it’s safe to assume that our names weren’t proffered for consideration. Of course, with over 1,000 potential members of the nominating committee, perhaps one of them has become familiar with our strenuous efforts to bring peace to the world—among other things—through civilized and intellectual debate.

For those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Nobel Peace Prize, it was established by the Swedish industrialist, inventor of dynamite, and armaments manufacturer (yeah, go figure) Alfred Nobel to annually recognize those who 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 prize—along with similar ones established by Alf for Chemistry, Physics, Physiology/Medicine and Literature—has been awarded since 1901.

Under the dictates of Nobel’s will, the Nobel Committee accepts nominations for the award from “qualified” people, such as members of governments, international courts, university professors, and former winners, among others. Information about the nominees, including the selection process, is withheld from the public, and, under the terms of the will, supposed to be withheld for 50 years. Of course, with so many potential nominators a tongue or ten inevitably wags, and rumours of each years’ nominees are rife. Of course, the Nobel Committee will never confirm or deny the name of any nominee, so the public still has to wait 50 years for the official release of nominee names. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominee rumour mill is predicting a record year for number of nominations.

Anyhow, the nominees are whittled by the Nobel Committee to a short list, which is vetted by advisory boards and by Nobel Committee staff, with their opinions about the short-listed nominees further hashed out by the committee until it finally comes up with a winner by early October. And, for the record, nominees are not always just individuals, as the annual award has been given to co-winners as well as to organizations. Oh, and the winners, as well as purported nominees, are often considered controversial, with Barack Obama’s win in 2009 prior to his first full year in office as U.S. President, being among the most recent controversial wins.

With the deadline coming to a close, lips have already started to loosen and those reportedly in the know are passing on the apparent nominees to the press. Among the more controversial names we’ve heard is “The Donald.” Yep, a U.S. nominator has reportedly proposed the U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump for his “vigorous peace through strength ideology.” However, the source of this leaked nomination did not give The Donald any chance of winning.

The negotiators—U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Chief Ali Akbar Salehi—who came up with the Iran Nuclear deal are also reportedly on the nominee list. While many people around the world might agree that they are deserving, there are certainly those on the right-end of the political spectrum in the U.S. who would disagree.

But perhaps the most controversial nominee would be Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who spilled the beans on the U.S. government’s massive global surveillance program. Controversial because the public at-large cannot agree on whether he’s a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot or a traitor. While some people consider him a hero and would applaud his Nobel Peace Prize win, others, including former CIA director James Woolsey, think he should be hanged for treason. The nominators of Snowden for the Peace Prize, said his whistleblowing has “contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order.”

Whatever one might believe about Snowden, currently living under political asylum in Russia, there is little doubt that his actions mark the biggest leak of U.S. government top-secret documents since the 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers, and that information in those documents has given the government a black eye. Among the revelations from the leak is that the U.S. conducts extensive spying on its own allies, that it engages in non-national security-related industrial espionage, and spies on its own citizens with impunity and contrary to federal law.

The leaks also suggest that high-ranking CIA and NSA officials consistently lie to Congress when queried about their activities. Meanwhile, these same officials claim that Snowden’s leaks have significantly harmed America’s international intelligence gathering efforts and allowed terrorists to circumvent detection.

Thus, Snowden is a polarizing figure. He’s either a patriot for exposing government transgressions, or a traitor for harming national security. If you’re of the “my government right-or-wrong” ilk then you undoubtedly believe Snowden is the latter. If you’re more circumspect in your views then it’s more complicated, and almost like he could be both traitor and hero. And, if you believe the NSA and CIA are akin to “Spectre,” then Snowden would obviously be a hero and deserving the Nobel due to his efforts in curtailing their insidious cyber-belligerence.

What to believe? What to believe?

Hash-It-Out! Does Snowden deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

—Published in hashitout.com on Feb. 2.

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