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What Nobel Really Wanted Review of the book written by Fredrik S. Heffermehl. The Nobel Peace Prize. Alfred Bernhard Nobel (21 October 1833–10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer.

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what nobel really wanted review of the book written by fredrik s heffermehl
What Nobel Really Wanted

Review of the book written by

Fredrik S. Heffermehl

The Nobel Peace Prize

alfred nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (21 October 1833–10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist,engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer.

He was a world magnate in the industrial and financial field.

He was an internationalist: “My house is where I work, and I work everywhere”.

Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous.

His father was arms constructor for the Russian czar, and many of his inventions were conceived in the military field, too.

In his last (and third) will, written in 1985 without the help of any lawyer, he used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.

ALFRED NOBEL
nobel s last will 1985

The world-famous, super-rich inventor was unmarried and had no children. He suffered from loneliness and depression.

Many people contested the will (relatives, employees), even Sweden’s King Oscar II, who thought he was “unpatriotic” and feared the money would go out of Sweden.

However, actionsagainst the will were very difficult.

However, Nobel appointed Sohlmanas responsible for putting into effect his last will. This man, who Nobel had just known a few years before, outsmarted the authorities brilliantly and solved the very complex arrangements.

NOBEL’S LAST WILL (1985)
provisions on the five nobel prices

The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital (…) shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed used in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics, (…) one part to the most imortant chemical discovery or improvement, (…) one part to the domain of physiology or medecine, one part to the domain of literature (…); and one part to the person who shall have done the best work for brotherhood between nations, for the abolition or reduction of the standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

Alfred Nobel’s will, signed in Paris on November 27, 1895

Provisions on the five Nobel Prices
however

Due to the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize is the world’s most important price (therefore, very visible and prestigious)…

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has come under increasing political, geopolitical and commercial pressures ( INAPPROPIATE AWARDS?)…

On many occasions, this brushes aside the visionary intent of Alfred Nobel’s will (it is still a legal binding duty!)

HOWEVER…
slide6

The choice of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is often controversial. Critics often call them dubious and driven by politics.

  • Corder Hull, Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the Western Hemisphere, his trade agreements, and his work to establish the United Nations.
    • The ship St. Louis sailed out of Hamburg into the Atlantic Ocean in 1939 carrying over 950 Jewish refugees, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution just before World War II. The ship's voyage caused great controversy in the US. Roosevelt issued an order to deny US entry to the ship . Forced to return to Europe, over a quarter of its passengers subsequently died in the Holocaust.
  • Le Duc Tho, North Vietnamese communist leader, and Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for their work on the Paris Peace Accords intended to secure a ceasefire in the Vietnam War.
    • However, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam just two years after this (April 1975). In addition, Kissinger had instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltrating NVA (North Vietnamese Army) in Cambodia. These nominations have perhaps been the most unpopular ever (3 out of 5).
  • Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt during the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel, and Menachem Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions to the Camp David Accords.
    • However, both are believed to have fought against British rule by violence.
slide7

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were joint winners of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.

    • Arafat's critics have referred to him as an "unrepentant terrorist with a long legacy of promoting violence”.
  • Rigoberta Menchú was given the prize in 1992, as a result of her memoirs…
    • which turned out to be partially falsified.
  • Wangari Maathai, 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,
    • was reported by the Kenyan media to have stated that AIDS was originally developed by Western scientists in order to depopulate Africa. She later denied these claims, although the Standard stands by its reporting.
  • Al Gore and the IPCC, joint 2007 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize,
    • have received criticism on the grounds of political motivation. Al Gore's victory over prize candidate Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker known for her efforts to save Jewish children during the Holocaust, attracted criticism from the humanitarian agency International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).
  • Barack Obama, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner…
    • drew much criticism that the award was undeserved, premature and politically motivated. Obama himself said that he felt "surprised" by the win and did not consider himself worthy of the award, but nonetheless accepted it.
structure of the book

Part I of the book is called “PEACE IS DISARMEMENT”, as the essence of

Alfred Nobel’s will in 1985.

Part II of the book is called “WAR IS PEACE”,

as the essence of Barack Obama’s

Nobel lecture in 2009.

The author affirms that “all but one of the last 10 Peace Prices are illegal”.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK
on military security

It is “a dangerous illusion”.

Each inhabitant of the globe spends nearly $200 per year, but… how secure do we become as a result?

Every year, the world spends on military security 3 or 4 times the amount it would take to assure every citizen of the planet a decent standard living.

The expenditure of the US has increased on 45% in 10 years (1999-2009).

Domination of weapons industry on politics.

Media do not lead the audience in the right direction.

Fight against militarism contributes decisively to rescuing the environment.

Funds for other good causes would be saved up: battle against hunger, poverty, disease…

On MILITARY SECURITY…
interpreting nobel s will

Can his intentions for the Peace Prize be realized still in the 21st century? How?

His ideas have to be translated from 1985 to the present time.

Nobel Committee ignores the expression “Champions of Peace” used specifically by Nobel (unauthorized change of his mandate?).

The execution of Nobel’s will (views, thoughts, conceptions and feelings) can be mapped through his correspondence and friendship with Bertha von Suttner.

Her book Lay Down Your Arms (1889) gets a high recognition from his part.

Their correspondence shows a great concern on peace issues and their sympathy for peace movements.

INTERPRETING NOBEL’S WILL
the execution of nobel s will in danger

The strict secrecy (list of nominees, minutes, votes) as an obstacle to evaluate the Nobel’s Committee work.

The veil is lifted only after 50 years.

This leads to uncertainty (though it might may be regarded as formality).

Political antagonism: at some times, members resign from the Committee.

In the first four decades, 85% of the prizes were justified; however, after 1944 only about 40% are sufficiently justified → drop off the respect to the will in the postwar period.

Moreover, a legal evaluation of some awarded Prizes is too far away from his will (Al Gore, Wangari Mathaai…): Are there many roads to peace???

After WWII: Politics distorting the Prize.

After 1990: Corporate and business control.

THE EXECUTION OF NOBEL’S WILL IN DANGER
after wwii parties in peace politics out

Political changes + strong promilitary sentiment (committees much less willing to implement the will).

Death or retirement of the veterans (lost of knowledge).

Some secretaries rewrote Nobel history by considering that his will towards peace was open (misunderstandings).

“All periods read history to suit their purpose”.

LEGAL QUALITY CONTROL NEGELECTED

FUNDAMENTAL LINK WITH PEACE MOVEMENT OBSCURED

NORWAY’S FOREIGN POLICY INTERESTS

After wwii: Parties in/ Peace Politics out
from 1990 political and business control

A “Nobel business” has developed in the last 20 years.

    • Private sponsorship take decisions outside of popular influence.
    • Some awarded organizations waste their funds in expensive hotels, generously salaried staff, first-class air travel… funds for peace work???
  • Foreign policies still influence too much.
    • Political will trumps the legal will.
    • Appeal for political decency.
  • New diplomacy opens dynamics in international law

THE PEACE MOVEMENT: “STARVING BUT PERSISTING”

From 1990: political and business control
2008 2009 in search of the lost nobel

AN URGENT ABOUT-TURN: BACK TO DISARMAMENT

  • 2008: Ahtisaari wins the Peace Prize
      • Norway shuts its eyes to the Law
  • 2009: Obama wins the Peace Prize
      • A record number of nominations
      • Obama Speech

 NEED OF SELECTING A QUALIFIED, INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE

Did Nobel ever get the Committee he wanted?

Democracy, transparency and abuse of majority.

2008-2009: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST NOBEL