The Biggest Prize

After a week of reflections on the trail above St. Ulrich, I’m ready for a break. We’ll return to the trail in a few days, but I have a few other things on my mind that I want to share.

Barrack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize when he had been the American president for only a few weeks. Basically, it was awarded to him not for his accomplishments but because he was a symbol of hope. That his presidency will be judged by history as a failure is another issue.

Recent news stories have me wondering if Donald Trump will be the next American to receive the prize. That of course assumes those who vote on the award can overcome certain prejudices.

I see in the news that North and South Korea are talking peace, and end to a war that has been waged for more than 60 years, though there hasn’t been much shooting since the early 1950s. There’s a big summit coming up this week (as I wrote this anyway) and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends with a peace deal. The reason, as I see it, is that Donald Trump scares people.

The leaders of North and South Korea have been locked in an uneasy truce for decades, with apparently no prospects for peace. Then along comes Donald Trump with his unpredictable approach to foreign policy. Suddenly peace doesn’t look like that bad an alternative. Neither side trusts him. The South doesn’t think he will live up to his treaty agreements to protect them from the North. The North is worried they will be attacked by American nuclear weapons, something once thought unthinkable – but not in this presidency.

(Trump’s unpredictability was highlighted this past weekend, as two hours after the end of the G-7 summit he withdrew his support for the communique he had just agreed to. Today Canad’as foreign minister said Trump’s ad hominem attacks were not helpful. I thought that was a cruel response to Trump’s tweets – he’ll have to look that up before he tweets that it is a very, very, very, very unfair thing to say. If i were a mental health professional I would probably be wondering about Trump’s mental stability.)

So if there is a final rapprochement between the two Koreas, should Donald Trump be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? He has brought them to the table, something none of his predecessors had managed to do.

Obama did nothing to deserve his Nobel Prize. Trump, though his actions may be erratic and irrational, does seem to be able to get people talking. Who knows, maybe his unprecedented moving of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move condemned by many,  may actually spur serious talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. A lasting peace in the Middle East has been considered pretty much unattainable – but if the Koreas strike a deal, can Middle East peace be far behind?

Middle East politicians have a vested interest in the status quo. That makes a peace deal unlikely if not impossible. But the unpredictability of the American president when it comes to foreign policy just might be the impetus for serious discussions about a lasting peace.

Maybe he really does deserve the Nobel Prize, just for being Donald Trump. After all, his predecessor got his just for being Barack Obama.


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