If the Nobel committee sought to move the needle on Colombian peace by honoring one of its auteurs, they might do well to remember a similar experiment that is all-too-familiar to observers in the Middle East.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring [Colombia’s] more than 50-year-long civil war to an end,” is being portrayed by some as a potential counterbalance to the October 2 referendum in which Colombians narrowly voted down a peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Reacting to the Nobel decision, Colombian journalist Carlos Arturo Charria, a columnist for El Espectador newspaper, told +972 by email that he hopes the prize pushes half of his country “to come out of its hate and misinformation” and support the peace deal.
It’s a laudable aim for a prize that, in 1973, went to none other than Henry Kissinger. But the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision may instead speak to a fundamental misreading of the dynamics of protracted conflict.
If the Nobel Committee sought to move the needle on Colombian peace by honoring one of its auteurs, they might do well to remember a similar experiment that is all-too-familiar to observers in the Middle East. It was in 1994, after all, that the peace prize went to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”
Like Peres and Rabin, who helped establish Israel’s settlement enterprise, or Yasser Arafat, who could not part with his signature fatigues even at the Nobel ceremony, Santos is part of a group of laureates who could be described as nouveaux pacifists, presiding over historic overtures to peace but lacking the lifelong bona fides of, say, Martin Luther King, Jr., the 1964 peace prize winner.
There can be no question that Santos has more in common with the former group. Reacting to the passing of former Israeli President Peres, a man with whom the Colombian president now shares two accolades, Santos said in a September 28 tweet: “I had the privilege of knowing him and of finding in him a friend of peace.”
Indeed, when Peres was Israel’s president, Santos, speaking to the Israeli press, said he was proud that his country had been called “the Israel of Latin America.” In a report...Read More