Europe: Now Nobel-certified as the most peaceful of our major continents!

Paul Wells on a recognition that is long overdue


In its early years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee displayed a touching faith in something called the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a forum for exchange among parliamentarians of various, mostly European, countries. I am informed by no less a source than Wikipedia that Nobel Peace Prize winners associated with the IPU included Frédéric Passy in 1901; Charles Albert Gobat in 1903; Fredrik Bajer in 1908; Auguste Marie François Beernaert in 1909; and Henri La Fontaine in 1913, after which Europe spiralled into half a decade of carnage in which 16 million people were slaughtered in conditions of inconceivable savagery and squalor. (The 127th Assembly of the IPU will be held in Quebec City later this month. Should we be worried?)

Undaunted, the Nobel committee gave the Nobel for peace to IPU members in 1921 and 1927. World War II seems to have durably dulled the Nobel jury’s admiration for European summitry; in recent years the committee has preferred undeniable worthies (Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi); well-meaning functionaries who were overwhelmed by events (Mikhail Gorbachev); prominent members of the U.S. Democratic Party (Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Barack Obama); and at least one Republican (Henry Kissinger).

So we can probably chalk today’s announcement that the Nobel for peace will go to “the European Union” — fully 61 years after the creation of the EU’s ancestor association, the European Coal and Steel Community — up to a laudable skepticism on the Nobel committee’s part. It was best to wait and see whether the EU would work out. If only the jury had shown similar restraint before giving Obama the prize. Indeed, the Nobel committee could well be accused of foot-dragging. The heyday of European construction, the transition from an intentionally technocratic to a more overtly political project, was the 1950s and 1960s. The greatest declaration that European construction had provided a durable alternative to war was made by Mitterrand and Kohl at Verdun in 1984. The Union’s largest expansion came in 2004, when most of the old Warsaw Pact countries joined the union of their former enemies, not just willingly but with widespread (although never unanimous) joy.

Celebrating the EU for anything these days amounts to buying in after the top of the market, but giving the award to fully 7.4% of the world’s population makes a kind of sense. First, the award goes to living recipients, and the masterminds of European construction — Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi — died long ago without recompense from the Nobel jury. Second, of course, the EU is going through a rough patch and could probably use a pick-me-up. The Nobel offers some handy perspective, if anyone wants to take it: on Twitter this morning someone pointed out what they apparently thought was the irony that, on the day the prize is announced, unemployment in Greece is 25%. Well, yeah: on the continent that saw Dieppe and Passchendaele, Katyn and Treblinka, 25% unemployment is a pretty good day at the office.

A few weeks ago the foreign ministers of 11 European countries published their suggestions for getting out of what is sometimes called the Euro crisis. Seventy years ago their predecessors were drafting and executing plans to slaughter one another’s populations by the tens of millions. The definition of “crisis” has changed  beyond recognition. That’s worth a prize.


Europe: Now Nobel-certified as the most peaceful of our major continents!

  1. Someone should give Ferguson a call in order to rebut Wells, at least give a good word for NATO – where he no doubt thinks the prize should go.[ very good debate between Ferguson and a couple of other gents[ monk?] on CBC radio a while back]

    Nobel for Kissinger…i remember that, the day some wag said satire died. I wonder if someone else made that claim in an earlier era?


    There she is, results and all. The pro European team was a hoot, particularly Daniel Cohn Bendit.
    Really worth a listen to if you missed it.

    • Nato is a War organization. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It *actually* is.

      • ‘War is Peace’

      • It’s a defense organization.

        • It’s military.

    • That’s funny I’m almost certain I just heard NF’s dulcet tones( someone anyway) over the radio, moaning about NATO not getting the Nobel

  2. Europe has warred since it’s earliest beginnings. In the last century their endless civil wars dragged everybody in by creating WWI and WWII.

    Finally they said enough and created the EU instead.

    This is a good thing. By all means let’s encourage them!

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Stop it.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Skipped your meds again eh?

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Bye-bye.

    • EU good. Eurozone bad. (Of course they should’ve — and could’ve — figured that one out about 15 years ago…)

      • Nothing wrong with the Eurozone….they just need to take the final step

        • Nothing wrong with the eurozone except it’s on the verge of collapse… In order to have monetary union there needs to be fiscal union. But what they have is the opposite: they are forcing teetering economies over the edge with self-defeating austerity measures.

          Countries like Greece and Spain would be much better off if they had kept their original currencies. Then in a fiscal crisis they can devalue the currency which makes exports and tourism more attractive leading to an economic boom which helps pay the bills. But now they have the opposite: debt in high-value euros and economies falling into depression; the deflationary spiral makes debt problems worse… In the end the people will rise up against the insanity and it all will have been for nothing…

          • No it’s not. You need a lot of hype to scare people into changing things

            Not easy to join all those countries together after all these centuries of warfare, and make them ‘European’

            Greece and Spain btw joined because they were sinking with their own currency

            No, there won’t be a revolution…..the only ‘insanity’ currently going on is a bunch of young punks causing trouble and hiking up police costs.

  3. This is going to look kind of stupid when the EU splits up and spirals into another major war.

    That said, it won’t look as stupid as some of the other Nobel Peace Prize awards.

    • Planet is more peaceful that it’s ever been….we are becoming more educated, and therefore more civilized.

      Plus Europe has largely dumped religion ….which is a help right there.

      • Yes, I saw how well that worked out in the 20th century too.

        • Agreed. Religion poisons everything.

    • Splits up and spirals into what war? The first could happen i suppose, but unlikely. Just where do you see a war coming from? I can’t see an obvious one; certianly not between the old antagonists, the UK, France and Germany. Russia is always a dark horse. But then it isn’t a part of the EU and remains unlikely ever to be.

      • The EUSSR has been on on US military welfare since WW2.

        • Actually they contribute funds to NATO. Whether the premium is enough to cover the value and cost of the protection the US defence umbrella has afforded them is debatable, but it certainly isn’t as one sided as you seem to think it. On top of which the US has been very much the decider in the org, filling the top jobs. It has definitely been an arrangement that has suited the US in addition to being a responsibility they have willing assumed. To imply it has all been a one sided welfare programme is to only look at it from a very narrow perspective.

          • NATO is an archaic Cold War relic and a military welfare program for a failed Europe.

          • Maybe some truth to that now. What makes you think the replacement[ a european defence force will be any better?]I think the west will regret any real retrenching from europe of US forces.It isn’t inconceivable they might wind up becoming rivals – not good!

          • The French will always raise the white flag and I like the Germans.

            I don’t see a problem.

        • Are you blaming Europe for this?

          • Two world wars is more than enough…

      • Anarchic civil breakdown. There won’t be any major wars, Europeans are too old.

    • They gave Yasser Arafart the Nobel Peace Prize for doing exactly what Anders Breivik did!


  4. Well if you ignore ingrained Romani persecution, the simmering Zones Urbaines Sensibles, the UK’s no-go areas, and the well supported racist political parties like the BNP, Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Front National, Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, etc… that make the Klan
    look moderate; Europe’s great.

    Everyone thinks Western Europe is a progressive wonderland (including Western Europeans), but get out of the cafe districts of the alpha cities and the attitudes found in the darkest reaches of American Jesusland, look like the lifestyle pages of the New York Times by comparison.

    The difference is; Americans talk loudly and often about their social problems, often vilifying their fellow countrymen in every possible way.
    Europeans, on the other hand, sweep their social problems under the
    rug, and never talk about “family” issues in front of foreigners.

    So the Americans think because the Euro’s don’t talk about their
    issues constantly, they mustn’t have any and are probably angels; and the
    Europeans think “if that’s the stuff the Americans will admit to, how
    horrible is the stuff they won’t?”.

  5. The Nobel should go to the ‘invisible hand’, it is trade/wealth that has kept Europe mostly peaceful for past 60 years. Trade, and the US Armed Forces that occupied Western Europe for decades, kept Europe peaceful while the European governments got used to working together. I agree with Wells that if Nobel is being awarded to Europe, it should have been decades ago for original coal and steel agreement or Treaty of Rome.

    It is cheeky to give Nobel to EU right now because it’s the euro that is causing much economic grief in Europe at the moment, If European countries were independent, they would be doing much better financially.

    Also, just because Europe has been mostly quiet for 70 years, it does not mean they won’t ever war again. It is unlikely but not impossible. Twenty five percent unemployment in European countries is what lead to Dieppe and Passchendaele, Katyn and Treblinka.

    • Yes let’s give the Nobel Prize to free-market ideology for causing the global economic meltdown we have yet to recover from. It also cooked up harsh austerity measures for eurozone economies battered by the above which will likely cause the eurozone to unravel.

      Yes we should all of us be grateful for the bounty given unto us by the Invisible Hand… (The Invisible Hand giveth and the Invisble Hand taketh away…)

      • Yes, it’s that simple. Free-market ideology is responsible for all that ails us. No further inquiry or thought is required.

  6. This prize should have been given to NATO not the EU

    • American rubbish from both Sigh and Charles.

  7. At least, the Nobel committee didn’t give the EU the Nobel Prize for Economics.

    • They couldn’t do that if they wanted to, because the Economics prize is not a Nobel prize and is not decided by the Nobel committee. It is a prize named in honour of Alfred Nobel, and orginates, I believe, in Sweden, not Norway.

      • All of the Nobels except peace originate from Sweden. Norway was an autonomous region of Sweden when the prizes were introduced, and they decided that the Norwegian parliament should get a piece of the pie (no pun intended).

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