It’s Very Possible President Trump Could Win a Nobel Peace Prize

After a meeting between the North and South Korean leaders, President Trump’s supporters said he should receive a Nobel Prize for the role he has played in the talks.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

When President Trump mused about brokering peace between North and South Korea during a recent campaign rally, the chants from his supporters rumbled through the Michigan sports complex: “Nobel. Nobel.”

For Mr. Trump, who has toggled with unsettling ease between volatile threats of “fire and fury” and impassioned calls for peace, the possibility of receiving a Nobel Peace Prize once seemed far-fetched. (The committee that awards the prize said this year that a nomination for him had been forged twice, by an unknown perpetrator whose motives remain a mystery.)

But the idea of his 2019 nomination, formally submitted by a group of 18 House Republicans and heartily endorsed by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, has started to take root among his supporters over the past few weeks as his own potentially historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea looms.

“Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it,” Mr. Trump said with a laugh on Wednesday when asked if he deserved the prize. “The prize I want is victory for the world.”

Critics of the president and his often inflammatory rhetoric balk at the idea of Mr. Trump receiving one of the world’s most prestigious diplomatic awards. But some laureates and historians of the prize acknowledge that there are instances where such an honor was bestowed on contentious politicians in order to acknowledge and encourage efforts for peace.

“Part of the strength of the Nobel Peace Prize is that it is controversial,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the prize after roughly eight months of deliberation over hundreds of nominations. “If it was a global consensus prize, it wouldn’t have the relevance and the authority that it actually has today.”

After the meeting between the North and South Korean leaders at the Demilitarized Zone dividing their nations, supporters are pushing for bestowing the often-controversial award on Mr. Trump, a starkly polarizing leader himself, for the role he has played in the talks. Several of them cite the Nobel Prize given to Mr. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, less than a year into his term as a precedent for an American president receiving the award early in his tenure.

In a telephone interview from Oslo, Ms. Reiss-Andersen declined to comment on Mr. Trump’s nomination, citing the intense protocol of secrecy that prohibits the five committee members from discussing nominations or its process until at least 50 years after the awarding of a prize. But without singling out a specific recipient, she acknowledged several past laureates bear a mixed legacy of conflict and armistice — or have failed to live up to the heavy expectation of furthering peace the way the committee intended.

“You don’t negotiate the peace process with your friends — you initiate them with your enemies,” Ms. Reiss-Andersen said, noting the award given to Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk for their work in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa. “Changing your position, and being willing to take a different position with the consequences that have happened — that is a contribution to peace.”

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SOURCE: New York Times, Emily Cochrane