By Ola Friholt, Chairman of the Peace Movement of Orust and TFF Associate
To The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm
Att. Lars Heikensten
Thank you for your letter dated 15th of January. It is always encouraging to be recognized and honoured by an answer welcoming continued exchange of views. We feel invited to write to you again.
As an active group within the peace movement we are mainly interested and familiar with the particular conditions connected with awarding a person the Nobel Prize for Peace. As we wrote to you recently, we are not at all satisfied with the level of respect shown by the Norwegian prize committee regarding the testament of Alfred Nobel and its explicit conditions for selecting a winner of the peace prize. The Norwegian committee is hardly having any respect at all for the instructions of Nobel, in spite of their explicit clarity.
In general it is all about rewarding activities of the latest year. Taking president Obama as an example, he had that particular year carried out his presidential election campaign accompanied by those generous promises and exaggerations characteristic of such campaigns. And he won. In this case, what agrees with the conditions laid out by Nobel? Ironic but basically deeply disappointed commentators uttered with grim humour that ”Obama got the prize because he was not Bush”. The grim humour expressed their understanding that people in power don´t bother about the views of common people.
The past tense is proper here, since, in the field of peace, Obama nowadays strikingly resembles Bush, in particular through numerous extra juridical executions similar to those that he usually accuses islamic leaders of. The war by drones is the achievment of this receiver of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
This example belongs to a long series of provokingly disrespectful selections of prize winners carried out by the Norwegian prize committee. In the document adopted by our participants of our seminar of December 7 and sent to you, several other similar cases are mentioned. The most remarkable of these is the prize awarded to the European Union, which in a flagrant way disqualifies from receiving the prize already through its constitution – the Treaty of Lisbon.
The Norwegian committee boasts of having a broad based or extended definition of peace, which hardly could have been part of Nobel´s idea of peace, since the extended notion of peace is a modern idea. The last few lines in the letter we received from the Nobel Foundation suggest that The Foundation is sharing the view of the Norwegian committee. That view is, however, not founded on any repudiation of military violence, a fact which is also confirmed by many a given award. That view differs widely from the extended definition of peace embraced by active promoters of peace.
In the peace movement, among independent peace researchers and considerable numbers of civil citizens this extended definition of peace is founded on a lasting total rejection of structural as well as direct violence, war and destruction of environment. What Nobel rejects is militarism and nothing else.
In that very many-sided military complex and in a spirit of antimilitarism Nobel has selected promotion of disarmament, brotherhood of nations and peace congresses all made manifest by individuals whom Nobel calls ”promoters of peace” (Sw.: ”fredsförfäktare”), a title that can´t easily be bought by laudable merits in other fields of action, like human rights, environment work and the like.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has frequently given the prize to heads of states, to ministers and even to generals who for the time being had suspended their bombing campaigns. In this group we find Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin and George Marshall. There is a significant list of those who made peace due to tactical considerations but did not give up military prison camps, military bases, occupation and oppression. These examples contribute to explain why the informed groups of citizens and the entire peace movement along with creators of public opinion nowadays shake their heads and make ironical remarks about the choice of prize winners made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
This is the reason why an increasing number of people today demand that the management committee of The Nobel Foundation make up their minds and question officially the shortcomings of the Norwegian committee. Till today there is a lack of response from you, the ultimately responsible committee, as trustees of The Nobel Foundation. This lack of response is made clear through the concluding lines of your recent letter to the Peace Movement of Orust. Sooner or later this lack of response will result in a public demand of repayment of a number of awarded prizes to the treasury of The Nobel Foundation.
As we all know, according to Swedish law, the entrusted members of the management committee of The Nobel Foundation are personally responsible for the proper use of its funds in accordance with the instructions given by Alfred Nobel in his testament. These instructions are in no way obsolete or difficult to understand.
We regard the present situation of the Nobel Peace Prize as precarious, and we request you urgently to act in a suitable way in the best interest of the Nobel Peace Prize and in the interest of us as well as yourselves.
Stocken, January 31, 2014
by direction of the Peace Movement of Orust
Address: Torget 1, Stocken, S – 474 92 ELLÖS – Sweden