International lawmakers recently nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Prize. This has inspired a great deal of ridicule and mocking from elites around the world. But when a person takes out their emotions and perceptions, and instead considers Trump’s record compared to other Nobel Prize winners like Barrack Obama a strong case can be made that Trump deserves the prize.
Trump’s Peace Brokering Record
We can begin with Trump’s record. Many people who follow and comment on politics can’t get past his rhetoric. But his blunt style is an important part of cutting through palavering elites that have produced a failed status quo.
Most recently Trump has achieved breakthroughs in Arab-Israeli deals and in the Balkans. These are the events that earned him the nomination. Critics use various arguments to say these don’t matter. The United Arab Emirates isn’t the biggest country and isn’t even a regional power. They contend that Trump accidently gets a few things right including fixing relations between Israel and the UAE. But this is only the third instance of a country recognizing Israel, and it was quickly followed by a wave of change.
There seems to be real progress in the Middle East towards peaceful relations.
Likewise, critics of President Trump criticized the Serbia and Kosovo deal because it was only a pledge with details that need to be followed up upon later. Yet if the deal was so meaningless or just vague pledges it shouldn’t have been difficult for previous Presidents to obtain it.
This isn’t the first breakthrough in the region. Greece has long objected to Macedonia’s name, as Alexander the Great is considered the most famous Greek from Macedonia, and the modern country of that name is not Greece. When Macedonia joined NATO they solved a decades long impasse by becoming North Macedonia. Again, critics assailed these events as unimportant, but if it was so easy it shouldn’t have taken 20 years and been shepherded by a supposed ruffian like Donald Trump.
All of this doesn’t mention Trump’s relative success with North Korea. This one has a stronger case about failing to follow through. Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Il Sun had two summits, produced a proclamation that would eventually lead to denuclearization, but then nothing happened.
Yet, North Korea is a particularly difficult problem to solve as the US has limited leverage and North Korea often bides for time. But Trump still seems to have a good personal relationship with Kim, which is an important element in negotiations. Considering many analysts thought there was a 50/50 chance of war during Trump’s term, the relative calm is a modest success even if the promises of the summit haven’t been achieved.
Trump’s Military Actions
Even Trump’s military actions have better chances leading to peace. Critics accused Trump of almost starting World War III with his drone strike against Iranian leaders. For a time, things were incredibly tense, though the media seemed to exaggerate those aspects for ratings and to bash Trump. Long term, Trump’s strike and Iran’s ineffectual response reestablished deterrence against Iran and provided a stronger negotiating position to stop their nuclear program. It is one of the logical ironies of warfare that being willing to go to war, can convince other powers to negotiate and thus avoid war. While disavowing warfare lessens a country’s leverage, and thus makes war more likely.
Finally, Trump hasn’t started any new wars. He has resisted calls to expand America’s footprint in Syria and Iraq. In contrast, he has resisted calls from within his own administration and instead scheduled troop withdraws from both countries that make our long-term commitments more manageable. He has also reduced the level of Trump’s serving in Afghanistan and there are tentative peace talks and short-term cease fires and reductions in violence that suggest America’s commitment is coming to an end.
In short, if a random president was described as achieving breakthroughs between countries in multiple regions, lessened the near certainty of war into a non-story, achieved leverage to negotiate, and drew down troops in some of America’s longest wars and complicated countries, that person should received credit.
The Case Against Obama
And this is before we contrast President Trump’s nomination with President Barack Obama’s award. Obama was granted the award in 2009 in the first year of his presidency. This made for the rather awkward situation for the rest of his presidency as it meant that every military action was done by a peace prize recipient. Soon after winning the prize Obama dramatically expanded the war in Afghanistan that eventually totaled 100,000 soldiers. He pursued relentless drone attacks and seemed to brag to newspaper reporters about his Sophoclean wisdom as he considered (really micromanaged) targets.
This puts elites in the awkward situation of supporting a Nobel Prize recipient that did little to deserve it but talk, and dramatically expanded America’s longest war and what many called unethical drone strikes. At the same time, they laugh at the nomination of someone who has actually achieved significantly breakthroughs and limited or diminished American involvement around the world. Not since Woodrow Wilson ran for president as the man that kept America out of war, and then joined the slaughter of World War I have the elites been so hypocritical.