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Putin Would Be in Good Company: 5 Controversial Nobel Peace Prize Winners

Putin Would Be in Good Company: 5 Controversial Nobel Peace Prize Winners
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Much to the consternation of many, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work negotiating in the Syrian conflict.

While the Putin administration’s anti-gay, anti-women and overtly religious conservative stance might make this seem ridiculous, Putin actually fits quite well into the Nobel Peace Prize’s legacy of controversial recipients.

Here are five examples in no particular order:


Copyright: World Economic Forum, Photo by Remy Steinegger (Creative Commons License.)

1. Yasser Arafat (1994) – Arafat won the award alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East” as represented by the Oslo Accords which set out a five-year transitional period for Israeli forces to withdraw from occupied territories and for a Palestinian authority to be set up and establish a permanent settlement.

This was perhaps one of the most controversial of awards because of Arafat’s history of, by most any standards, presiding over a corrupt, violent and authoritarian regime. Yet the Nobel committee has shown an incredible ability to focus solely on perceived good deeds at the expense of context, illustrating why Putin’s nomination could be in good stead.


Copyright: Demosh, Wikimedia Creative Commons.

2. Wangari Maathai (2004) — Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace,” and the award was widely praised as a recognition of a woman creating social change.

Undeniably, a great deal of Maathai’s work might be praiseworthy, but what the committee neglected to recognize was that Maathai, speaking at a public workshop in Nyeri the same year she was awarded the prize, had reportedly said that HIV/AIDS was the result of a botched laboratory experiment and that AIDS was the deliberate creation of Western scientists who wished to control the African population.

For once the Nobel Committee could not ignore this controversy and a statement was issued in which Maathai commented she had never said such things and that the pronouncements were “wicked.”

The Standard, which had originally reported on the controversial statements, has always maintained that this was a direct quotation of Maathai’s words.

Putin has made similarly ridiculous statements about the gay population, ones he in fact hasn’t denied, that include him implying that Europeans are dying out in part because of their capitulation to gay marriage.



Henry Kissinger

Credit: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.


3. Henry Kissinger (1973) — Kissinger was awarded the prize jointly with Vietnamese revolutionary Le Duc Tho (though the latter turned it down) regarding his role in negotiating a ceasefire to end the Vietnamese war. In reality, not only did the war not conclude until 1975, Kissinger had been instrumental in crafting the Nixon era policies that escalated the Vietnam war.

Furthermore, Kissinger’s role as Secretary of State and his alleged (though broadly evidenced) involvement in a number of heavily questionable attacks including  the U.S. bombing campaigns in Cambodia to name just one, has for critics brought the Peace Prize into disrepute.

Next page: Anti-choice and anti-immigration Nobel Peace Prize reward recipients.

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Photo credit: World Economic Forum.

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2:05AM PDT on Oct 12, 2013


2:33PM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

Thanks for sharing

4:56AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

2:30PM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

Obama should have been on that list - since he did zip to earn the Peace Prize (something which he himself essentially admitted).

This prize has been devalued - it's supposed to go to someone who has accomplished something really significant in stopping physical conflict. It's not something which should be used to further PC goals and to reward feel-good behavior.

And although I agree Mother Teresa shouldn't have been awarded the prize it has nothing to do with the recipient's views on abortion.

9:45AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013 unattainable allusion

9:18AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

The Nobel Peace Prize is almost always just as much about encouraging future behavior as it is about rewarding past behavior - hence Kissinger gets it for a war still in progress, Obama gets it for speaking as nicely to the Arab world as to Israel, and Arafat, an actual terrorist turned politician, gets it for Oslo. Recognizing this, a man who has brutally suppressed an insurgency in a region seeking independence as it has been doing since it's annexation more than 500 years ago (Chechnya), who invaded a little neighbor that pissed him off (Georgia) makes perfect sense. Putin had been protecting the Assad regime from any kind of interference from the UN. When Assad was dumb enough to gas his own people and cross the line drawn by a POTUS who has no compunction about using the precision weaponry available to him, Putin started out by lying and blustering, but eventually came around to admitting that his protégé had those nasty weapons after all and offered to make him give them up. It's not easy for any of us to admit when we've been caught in a lie, and it's even harder for megalomaniacal autocrats; for that alone, Vlad deserves the prize. We're all better off with the chemical weapons being removed. It was only a matter of time before one went off in Moscow thanks to those Chechens, but eventually one would have made it to New York.

10:24PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

I'm still wondering how Obama deserves a PEACE prize. In fact, if one considers that the US and the UK are the world's worst war-mongers and always have been, no American or Briton should ever qualify for a peace prize of any sort.

1:11PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

BTW - in view of Obama's history in office he should be stripped off the NPP or - if he want's to save a little bit of the respect he once had - he should give it back on his own.

1:10PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Well ... it's quite simple:

If Kissinger and Obama got the NPP than Putin deserves it definitely twice! Just for averting yet another US war of aggression for nothing else but dominance and control over resources.

It has been descending more and more into a politically motivated farçe anyway.

What I find quite ... disgusting and disconcerting though is to see an outstanding person like Mother Teresa on this list!! It says a lot ... about the author? Care2? ... and it's not positive!

11:39AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

The Nobel Peace Prize means NOTHING anymore. If the committee really wanted to award a truly deserving person, they would look no further than Malala Yousafzai, the brave Pakistani girl who demanded an education for girls, stood up to the Taliban, and was shot in the head for her trouble. Now she is safe in England and spreading her message of positivity and courage throughout the world.

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