Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Nobel to European Union Recalls Peace Prize to Barack Obama

Analysis:The Norwegian Nobel Committee has created controversy in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU.
By Dr. Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 10/14/2012, 3:43 PM

Flowers and sympathy from Norway
Flowers and sympathy from Norway
Reuters

If the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway believed that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union would constitute a vital shot in the arm for the EU as it undergoes one of its most difficult periods, it was probably mistaken.

It was seen as a political statement by the committee, much like the criticized decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama early during his term of office without any real record of achievement to justify the award.

The decision also appears to align the committee with one of Brussels' major talking points namely, that the European Union must be saved at all costs, because the alternative means a continent backsliding to war and conflict.

If the EU is responsible for peace, then the corollary is subtract the EU and we go back to war. The guiding spirt in the committee is the Labour party politician Thorbjorn Jagland, who, incidentally, is Secretary-General of the Council of Europe -  not the same organization as the EU, but a kissing cousin.

The early incarnations of the European Union were the European Coal and Steel Community and later on, the Common Market. They did a great deal to end the "Hundred Years War" between France and Germany. European integration definitely deserves part of the credit, but not all of it.

Paradoxically, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet threat to Europe also contributed to uniting Europe . There was also apprehension, based on the experience between the two world wars, that the United States would quickly tire of a bickering Europe. Therefore, during the most dangerous years of the Cold War - at least to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956 and during Europe's economic recovery -  it paid for Europe to display a common purpose.

The EU was most influential when it was a club that had people knocking on the gates to join. As such, the European Union could impose conditions on who could join the club. This had a very salutary effect when countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, just emerging from dictatorial regimes in the 1970s, wanted to join.

This attraction became smaller as Europe's economic power receded, trade liberalization weakened the impact of a common external tariff and authoritarian countries endowed with natural resources like Russia - or grown rich via economic growth like China - could successfully push back against European soft power.

In conflicts involving the former Yugoslavia, the European Union was dependent on American military power and could not handle the crises on its own.

A club struggling with its current membership is reluctant to admit new members; prospective members are lukewarm about joining.

The European Union has come up with a list of complaints about Serbia as a pretext for freezing progress on accession talks. The most important roadblock is to have Serbia recognize the territorial integrity of Kosovo. As Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo and hopes to get at least a partition that will not unite the Serb enclaves in that country with Serbia, the Serbs aren't in a rush.

The same applies to Turkey. The European Union made valid criticisms about the problems with Turkish democracy. The report on Turkey was slammed by Turkish European affairs minister Egemen Bağış, who compared the EU to a dietician whose health was deteriorating and was now suffering mental problems, implying that the critical commentary on Turkey reflected the organization's economic and political crisis.

Dr. Ungar is a political scientist who lies in Tekoa. His work appears in various Hebrew and English publications and he is Arutz Sheva political analyst.