With “bromance” diplomacy reaching the Korean peninsula, the speculation over the next Nobel Peace Prize is abounding. One can never be sure, but it seems likely that the winner will be associated with the reduction of international tensions between the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un and the greater civilized world.
The most obvious and deserving choice is President Trump. His “maximum pressure” strategy to end the decades of embarrassing and dangerous failures of past administrations had several components. There were unprecedented sanctions that had a real impact on the fragile North Korean economy. Even the most brutal dictator cannot forever withstand the power of a hopelessly oppressed and starving people. Maintaining a world-class military with a third world economy is impossible without imposing unacceptable hardships on the masses. That was a major factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Then there is Trump’s threat of military intervention – more importantly, a credible threat. This brought about a lot of anal anxiety from the political left and the pinstripers in the old guard diplomatic establishment. He scared them, along with China, Russia, South Korea, our allies in Europe and a good chunk of the American public. Most importantly, however, he scared Kim and made the end of the Kim Dynasty a distinct possibility.
Behind the bellicose rhetoric, Trump engaged in an unending round of one-on-one diplomacy (née negotiations) with key heads of state. Consistent with the iceberg analogy, some of the effort to bring Kim around was seen on the surface, but the greater exchanges were out of sight and away from the eyes and ears of the media — which explains their biased, faulty and fact-challenged time-filling narratives.
The #NeverTrump constituency took little note of the precursor events that resulted from the President’s deal-making skills. They missed the meaning of China’s public pronouncements that the Korean peninsula must be nuclear free. Trump used the carrot (continued good relationship) with the Middle Kingdom and a few sticks (threats of trade restrictions and a Korean peninsula unified under the rule of the folks in Seoul) as leverage.
The media, transfixed on anti-Trump subjects, underplayed the significance of the UN resolution condemning North Korea – a resolution that had the unprecedented support from both Russia and China. They seemed unaware of the President’s preliminary personal diplomacy with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. They failed to see the meaning of Trump’s subsequent endorsement of North Korea’s participating in the Olympics and the opening of direct talks between Moon and Kim.
Those determined to deflect credit from Trump point to the other players in the Korean drama – Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Moon and even a suddenly enlightened Kim. In politics of the bizarre, some have even suggested that the earlier visit of Dennis Rodman was the commencement point – even though the former basketballer had no grand purpose, no strategy and produced no results.
President Trump, however, was clearly the moving force and the ringmaster that developed and implemented the broader strategy. He exerted strong leadership in a manner that his predecessors were too fearful and timid to do. Those who would deny this reality need only to hear the words of South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, who said “Clearly, credit goes to President Trump. He’s been determined to come to grips with this from day one.” Japanese Prime Minister Abe offered up similar praise of Mr. Trump’s efforts in North Korea, as did several other heads-of-state throughout the world.
So, what about that Nobel Peace Prize?
If events follow the more optimistic forecast, the Prize should go to Trump without question. But, there is a problem. The folks who award that Prize are tied to the global philosophic left. They hate the current American President. Merit has little to do with their vote. They would rather embarrass themselves and again demean the value of the Prize rather than present it to anyone on the political starboard – especially if he or she is an American.
You will recall, that President Nixon never won the Peace Prize for his monumental accomplishment of bringing China out from behind the Bamboo Curtain – turning an atomic adversary into a leading trading partner. President Reagan never got the Prize for bringing down the evil empire that was once the Soviet Union and effectively ending the Cold War and bringing down the Berlin Wall as he commanded of Gorbachev. Not to mention that successful Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty that resulted from what was commonly referred to as the SALT talks. Instead, a Prize was awarded to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev who essentially capitulated to Reagan’s pressure and diplomacy.
On the other hand, President Obama was awarded the Prize after only eight months in office, and without a scintilla of peace-making accomplishment. The Nobel Peaceniks said it was in “anticipation” of all the things he would do. Based on his subsequent record, Obama might not have even been a strong candidate for a nomination. He effectively turned the Peace Prize into a dubious honor award by expanding the war in Afghanistan, ordering the summary killing an American citizen without due process, invading a sovereign nation to kill Osama Bin Laden, and causing the most tragic and deadly human migration since the Holocaust. While we Americans rightfully applaud most of those actions – notably excepting the last – they are not the actions that usually gain praise from the folks in Oslo.
The only other American President to be awarded the Peace Prize in modern times was Jimmy Carter for his negotiating Peace between Egypt and Israel in what was called the Camp David Accords. While a notable accomplishment, it did not compare to those of Nixon and Reagan in terms of global ramifications. (For the record, the only other U.S, president to receive the Peace Prize were Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson).
One should also recall the Peace Prize being awarded to Palestinian Liberationist Yasser Arafat in a brief pause between his days as a murdering terrorist and his later days as a sponsor of terrorism. In contrast, not one of the world’s leading preachers of peace, the popes, ever won the award.
You can rest assured that Trump will be among those nominated for the Peace Prize because that level of recognition is not so rigorous. Many are nominated.
True, it is a bit premature to project Trump as a worthy winner, but what he has accomplished so far is amazing when viewed in the hindsight of just a few months ago. The Peace Prize buzz is not mere political bravado.
In the absence of the Peace Prize, Trump could achieve a prize of much greater significance – popularity. There is a growing whispered belief among political pundits on both sides of the partisan divide that Trump could … just could … find his popularity crossing the 50 percent meridian before the 2018 elections. Officially ending the 70-year war on the Korean peninsula and removing the nukes in the North could provide the necessary boost.
As Trump often admonishes, “We will just have to see what happens.”