Who has a spotless record? Mahatma Gandhi? Nope. According to a Guardian story from January 2010, his misogynistic tendencies have left India one of the most sexually repressed in the world. And a Boston University panel discovered that our alumnus Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized passages of his dissertation for his doctoral degree, according to an October 1991 article in The New York Times. While these winners have their flaws, they were still bastions of hope for millions of people. Now, there is a nominee up for the Nobel Peace Prize who has some more major flaws.
Members of a Russian group called International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World have nominated Russian President Valdimir V. Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts in avoided direct military action against Syria.
Before we get into the oppressive, domineering and tyrannical environment of killing and jailing LGBTQ activists in Russia, we have to admire Putin’s success. Because of Putin and his outreach to Americans in his Sept. 11 New York Times editorial, he spearheaded the efforts that forced the Syrian government to give up their chemical weapons. Putin stood between U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to drone strike Syria (as did Congress), and in eventually garnering international support in doing so, he allowed the UN to function as it was intended to.
However, at least Gandhi and King did not have a history of sympathizing with oppressive, murderous dictators like Muammar al-Gaddafi. Putin’s one instance of exemplary diplomacy does not erase his horrible record littered with human rights violations. As an ex-KGB agent, Putin, when he was Prime Minister, crushed his citizens when Chechnya began rebelling against the Kremlin in 1999. He rigged the Russian presidential election in 2011 — apparently 140 percent of Russians voted for him. Then there are those things going on in his country like the obscene suppression of LGBTQ rights just before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Obviously this man does not deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, and we don’t expect him to get it. But here is the problem: How respectable is the prize anymore? Does it carry the same value it did when King won? Obama won in 2009 for his efforts to end the war in the Middle East. Have the troops been pulled out? Have drones stopped killing civilians daily, however inadvertently? How can a world leader, a politician, win this prize and continue to use violence to solve the world’s problems?
The European Union won last year “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” according to the official Nobel Prize website. The entire Union won.
The world needs a single pinnacle of peaceful advancement to win this prize. It would especially be more uplifting if it were awarded to people not in the international political eye. Why hasn’t an organization providing relief effort in Darfur been recognized or a judge combatting sexual violence won? The Nobel Peace Prize is becoming a popularity award. It’s losing its meaning. To the people awarding the next Nobel Prize, stray away from politicians who made one peaceful move. Remember the figures that put themselves in danger to rid the world of violence.