Snubs Iran Deal, Lauds Arab Spring
John Kerry lost big this week as the Nobel Committee announced it was awarding the Nobel Peace Prize not to John Kerry, Secretary of State and erstwhile hero of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, but to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.
The Quartet formed in 2013 in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution. Tunisians were attempting a democracy, but the process was being stifled by political assassinations and social unrest. The Quartet turned the focus back onto individual rights, redirected the political process, and facilitated the creation of a constitutional system.
Sounds a lot better than “facilitated a deadly deal with a belligerent nation,” doesn’t it?
More from the Nobel Committee:
Tunisia faces significant political, economic and security challenges. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world. More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the Committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries.
The Quartet beat out Kerry, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis—which says something. It’s not every day you top the Pope in terms of global human empathy.
Now, to be fair, Kerry wasn’t exactly a favorite for the award. Bookmakers had Kerry at 10/1 at best, and some didn’t even have him listed at all. Still, the buzz was there, and there’s no doubt that he could have used the boost.
Slate dubbed Kerry “The Troll Pick”:
John Kerry’s critics suggest he’s had his eye on the prize for quite some time. Kerry should “take his Nobel Prize and leave us in peace,” an exasperated Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon said last year. This year, the U.S. secretary of state along with his Iranian counterpart and the other foreign ministers of the P5+1 are potential Nobel contenders for the recently negotiated nuclear deal. I don’t think this is very likely or prudent—let’s give the deal a few years to work before we celebrate it—but as someone who writes about politics, part of me wants to see it happen just for how angry it would make U.S. Republicans and how uncomfortable it would make the White House.
The anger amongst Republicans (although, to be fair, once Obama won the thing didn’t we give up on it?) would have been worth the visible clenching during the Rose Garden ceremony
The Week, however, made the case, saying, “it could happen”:
The Swedish and Norwegian Nobel committee seems to favor nuclear non-proliferation activists in years ending in fives, Reuters notes: Soviet nuclear scientist and human rights reformer Andrei Sakharov won in ’75; the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War were honored in ’85; physicist and disarmament promoter Joseph Rotblat received the award in ’95; and the International Atomic Energy Agency took the Nobel in 2005. Reuters chalks up the 10-year intervals as the committee’s way of memorializing the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
If that’s not convincing enough, Kerry and Zarif have already locked up an important endorsement in Sweden, where Tariq Rauf, the director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has already called for the pair to be honored with the Peace Prize.
Better luck next time, Mr. Secretary. Maybe you could try brokering an international deal with someone other than the enemy of the freedom-loving world?
Others passed over for the accolade include:
• American Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents about secret U.S. surveillance programs
• Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, who agreed to a path for peace this year, setting the groundwork for a final accord
• Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief and one of the founders of Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper
• The Article 9 Association, a pacifist group fighting to preserve a Japanese constitutional clause that prohibits war as a means of settling international disputes
• Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who help rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest who is a phone contact for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, passing on the coordinates of their boats to rescuers and coast guards
• Raif Badawi, who in 2008 launched the Free Saudi Liberals website.
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