December 7, 2021
Imagine that the Nobel Prize in Literature is given to a book publisher or papermaker and the official motivation is that publishers or papermakers are preconditions for the writer writing and being read.
Roughly, this is how the Nobel Peace Committee, reasons – unreasonably. Here’s how it legitimates that its 2021 prize goes to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov way outside the letter and spirit of Alfred Nobel’s will:
“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time. This year’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize is therefore firmly anchored in the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will.”
See? – “without papermakers and publishers, it will be difficult to successfully write good literature and be read…”
I believe my readers easily grasp just how far-fetched this argument is in the light of Alfred Nobel’s own text when he states that one of the five parts of the capital he leaves behind shall go to:
“the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”
That’s what Nobel wrote in his will, and it should be pretty clear. It’s focus is anti-military/ism, disarmament – reduction of everything military and of war and establishment of the conditions of a more peaceful world.
However, neither media people nor a large majority of those who discuss the peace prize every year seem to ever having bothered to Nobel’s will. That also applies to the peace people who have been deprived of the most prestigious prize on earth.
They all seem to think that it is a kind of do-good prize for, in principle, any noble deeds.
It isn’t. What this signals is the general illiteracy concerning everything called peace in our culture.
Even presumed experts of peace – PRIO and SIPRI – get it wrong … deliberately
Thus, both the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) – founded by Johan Galtung in 1959 – and SIPRI believe that any do-good person or activity shall be OK.
PRIO’s director, Henrik Urdal, celebrates this year’s prize and says that “We have waited for a media prize for a long time.” Very revaling – a media, not a peace prize, coming from a director of a peace research institute!
His shortlist of candidates was not accessible on December 7 when I visited PRIO’s homepage, but during all the earlier years, that list has been full of people who could not be candidates based on a serious and even broad interpretation of Nobel’s own words.
But Urdal is hardly that ignorant. Of course Urdal knows what the peace prize is for but with PRIO’s decay from a genuine, innovative peace and conflict research institute into a mainstream pro-West international relations outfit with extremely little focus on core themes and values of peace research – this is what one must now expect.
Dan Smith, the director of SIPRI – Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – also has problems taking his hands down: “The motivation for the award notes the link between freedom of expression, democracy and peace. This is absolutely right. Research shows that democracies do not go to war with each other and tend to be more stable and internally peaceful. And democracy is impossible without freedom of expression and a free media that seeks and speaks the truth.”
Tired politico-diplomatic stereotype praising of Western democracy! And no mention of the fact that these democracies gladly go to war against everybody else they don’t think is democratic and with that argument. A statement worthy of a Mike Pompeo or a smart CIA operative justifying the harm his agency does 24/7.
The intellectual and political decay of this institute is obvious under the leadership of Smith and one of Sweden’s foremost and most media-used diplomats, Jan Eliasson, who has also never been heard uttering any criticism of US/NATO warfare.
And what could you otherwise expect of a peace institute that proudly invites former US Secretary of State, Dr. Madeleine Albright, as it annual speaker in 2021? She is a non-convicted war criminal of the Clinton administration – Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan and all that – and known for her statement that half a million dead women and children in Iraq as a consequence of economic sanctions was – well, “worth it”. But invitations like that, of course, has nothing to do with intellectual or ethical qualities; they please the world’s leading military power that Sweden doesn’t want to have a conflict with.
Of course, SIPRI’s leadership knows what the Nobel peace prize is for. And of course, it celebrates that it is repeatedly being awarded pro-West people and not West/US/NATO-critical people. And of course, they would not have celebrated it if Julian Assange, Chelsey Manning, Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Falk, or Johan Galtung had received the prize – the latter two, if so, would be the first scholars to ever receive the peace prize.
They know how to be politically correct – however anti-intellectual and however short-sighted it is. And will be seen as having been in the eyes of the future.
The politicised Nobel Peace Prize
There are many reasons that the Nobel Peace Prize has been politicised in the extreme:
• The general discourse about peace in media, politics and research has been cancelled over the last couple of decades, particularly post-9/11.
• This prize has always been an important element of Norwegian foreign policy and can, in principle, be given to any candidate, no matter her/his qualifications if politically correct; awarding it to someone who is manifestly critical of the most militarist and warlike civilisation, NATO in particular, is completely out of bounds today.
• The Committee has no particular expertise on peace. It is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, Stortinget, and includes retired members of Norwegian political parties. Imagine such a group would be asked to select candidates for the prize in medicine or literature! But when it comes to peace, anyone is a born expert. It is also a gross misinterpretation of the text of Nobel’s will which states that the Norwegian parliament shall appoint the committee but nowhere states that it shall consist of or include Norwegian parliamentarians.
• The West is declining in power and relevance. A new multi-polar world order is emerging. The time when the West could dominate and tell what other countries and cultures should do and how they ought to think is, as a matter of fact, long gone. In that perspective, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee clings to its tables and chairs aboard Titanic.
• Neither the peace movement nor the general public seem to bother about the fact that the world’s most pristigeous prize – for the noble goal of peace and de-militarisation – has been hijacked to serve non-peace purposes and even pro-militarist concepts and policies.
If freedom of expression, free media and peace then Julian Assange
Now, imagine that a “media” prize perhaps could be an innovative idea within the framework of Nobel’s will. The Nobel Committee would then reward someone who practices peace journalism (positive peace) or to a person who has taken action for transparency, the right to publish – and reveal – war crimes and bring hidden information to the attention of the larger public that finances the people who commit crimes. If the activity had at least something to do with the clear intention of Nobel. Imagine further that the Committee did not want to reward spying but the freedom of media to publish what has been presented to them. If so, one obvious candidate would have been Julian Assange.
That would also have alerted people to the fact that democratic societies such as Sweden, the UK, the US and Equador without hesitance marginalise lawful processes and play their games in support of militarism (see Nils Melzer’s path- and also heart-breaking revelations in his book, The Case of Julian Assange. A History Of Persecution, to be published early 2022)
I do not want this article to end up with a discussion about Assange – pro et contra. I am merely saying that if freedom of expression and of the media was the genuine purpose, it could have done otherwise: Rewarded media work that would lead to increased awareness about the crimes and madness of militarism, warfare, illegal killings etc.
My readers will understand by now why the Nobel Peace Committee would never have taken such a decision which would likely cause the US and other NATO members (as well as Sweden with its political victimization of Julian Assange ten years ago as natural consequence of its ever closer relations with the US) to convey their dissatisfaction with the Committee’s choice – with Norway as an ally.
So much for civil courage and and honest commitment to peace in general and Nobel’s peace vision in particular.
I have made no analysis of the long-term work of Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov. What I ague in this article has nothing to do with their work for freedom of the press, human rights or whatever. Both of them have received numerous prizes before and they are far from unsung heros. I’m not in doubt that they have done remarkable and courageous things, all I am saying is that they’ve done nothing for peace and nothing that qualifies to this particular prize.
That said, what do you find about them if you do what any professional media person would do – namely a little research on the Internet – instead of just reading press releases and replicating US news bureaus on the Nobel Peace Prize?
Maria Ressa has received funds from the CIA and Dmitry Muratov from the Dutch government
Maria Ressa is a Filipino-American journalist who has been educated and taught in the US, has been writing for and served as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila for nearly 20 years as well as worked for other US media including Wall Street Journal. And she is the co-founder and CEO of Rappler.
In 2017, Maria Ressa received the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award (as you’ll see also a Madeleine Albright-led event because she is its chair). You’ll see here what type of Institute it is – closely related to NED, the National Endowment for Democracy which, according to itself, is a front for the CIA. On Wikipedia you read that “In 1986, NED’s President Carl Gershman said that the NED was created because “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the 1960’s and that’s why it has been discontinued.”
Both Institutes receive funds from the US Congress and are, thus, near-governmental organisations; they are right-wing, pro-military (the opposite of Nobel’s intentions), close to State Department and Pentagon and supported by the usual types of people, think tanks and foundations that are also close to, or part of, the US Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC).
Maria Rassa has received funds from NED at least two times in recent years. See documentation here on NED’s own database. And she is featured here on NED’s homepage.
So, no known work that in the slightest make Maria Rassa “the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.” And she is, at least partly, funded by clearly militarist circles in Washington.
Ressa’s Rappler has an interesting startup history that you can read here but not on Rappler’s own homepage. There is – one had almost said “of course” again – big corporate funds behind, particularly related to Marcus Brauchli who also happens to be related to the most prestigious US mainstream media.
And what about Dmitry Muratov?
He is a Russian journalist, television presenter and editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta which focuses on human rights, corruption and the abuse of power in Russia. The first you come to think of in relation to him and the newspaper is reporting on the Chechen War, that journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya who was tragically murdered in 2006 published most of reports and analyses in this newspaper, that Gorbachev supported it with some of the funds from her wife’s book (not his Nobel Peace Prize money), and that Muratov has stated to the New York Times that if he had decided the Prize, Alexei Navalny would have been his choice. In addition, we also know from Wikipedia that he has been awarded lots of prizes before including the highest French order of merit, the Legion of Honour – and, of course, several media prizes.
To say that the Nobel Peace Prize committee has made an innovative choice to support less known people’s peace work with Ressa and Muratov would be to pull a joke.
What fewer may know is that Novaya Gazeta was partly founded and funded in the early days by the Dutch government. Here is a (deficient) translation in RusLetter of an article in Izvestia. Like the US, the Dutch government supports foreign media particularly those that are under pressure, and the Dutch embassy in Moscow is active in that. Novaya Gazeta also sems to have received funding from George Soros’ foundation.
One must also mention the peculiar coincidence note that both Maria Rassa and Dmitry participated in President Biden’s “Democracy Summit” on Day Zero, December 8, 2021 and that The Netherlands co-hosts it.
Conclusion: The Nobel Peace Prize firmly in ideological hands and in support of the US/NATO Media Cold War
It almost looks like a coordinated action: first, the Nobel Peace Prize, then championing and strengthening US democracy at a seminar where neither Russia nor China (but Taiwan) are invited – a crystal clear component in the US ideology warfare.
The suspicion grows when one sees that the new global media initiative by the Biden Administration announced on that first Summit day by Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – The International Fund for Public Interest Media which incidentally is also co-founded by NED (see above) – has Maria Ressa as Board co-chair. This means that she is now a US government employee whose task it will be to aggressively promote US values and the US-promoted and heavily financed media ideological Cold War.
And, finally, on a meta level and as part of our “Zeitgeist” – it is incredible that a Nobel Peace Prize is given in support of freedom of the media at a time when that particular freedom in Western mainstream media is at its lowest since 1945 and when fake (narratives, marketed stories, PSYOPS and outright lies) as well as omission (of perspectives, alternative expertise, investigative research, source checking, non-Western news bureaus and of US/NATO critical and peace stuff) has accumulated exponentially the last 2-3 decades.
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That no scholars have ever been awarded the Nobel Peace prize says a lot. To the list of Robert Falk and Johan Galtung, you could add Noam Chomsky, Richard D. Wolff, David Harvey, just to mention a few that comes to mind.
To the list of journalist working for peace and demilitarization that you rightly mention, could be added a couple more that would in any sensible person’s view be considered before the two awardees: John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Chris Hedges, Andre Vltchek, Jan Oberg (!), Afshin Rattansi, Glen Greenwald, Michel Chossudovsky, Amy Goodman, Seymour Hersh….and the list could fortunately go on.
And what about authors and film makers. The following names just come to mind, but many more are worth mentioning: Tariq Ali, Oliver Stone, Dan Glazebro, Jeremy Scahill, and John Pilger again.
I appreciate your article, and I agree with your point that the Peace price to Ressa and Muratov contradicts the will of Nobel. More generally, I share your view that “The general discourse about peace in media, politics and research has been cancelled over the last couple of decades, particularly post-9/11.” But who is to blame for this sad situation? Well, I would not put too much blame on some named persons, or, say, the Norwegian committees that decide about the yearly peace Nobels. The decisions of those committees certainly must be questioned, but peace is, after all, a philosophical concept. Therefore, I would put part of the blame … on the philosophers. So who are they, the philosophers? The academic professors of philosophy?
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