A Plea to the Nobel Peace Committee
Source: Omna Tigray
A terse historical perspective is in order—a perspective that has thus far defined the national ethos of the Nordic community in general. This ethos has its origins in what political theorist Francis Fukuyama termed, “Getting to Denmark.” Such a road is one that ended in Denmark attaining the ideals of Liberal Democracy, after opposing ideas continuously generated growth ultimately ending in the “End of History” i.e. a harmonious society.
Such idealism, however, was short lived among political theorists as they moved onto the more “realistic” academic concept of the “Clash of Civilizations,” which argues that conflicts over people’s cultural and religious identity would dominate global politics after the Cold War. Despite such a paradigm shift, Denmark’s image as an example of Liberal-Democracy has refused to fade away.
Denmark has been known for embodying Liberal-Democracy that for so many states is at best a distant ideal to live up to. It is a state where political institutions reach a perfectly calibrated balance through transparency, accountability and rule of law. Such a synchronized orbit is a political feat, which states in the West, including the United States struggle to synchronize.
Such an ethos was not developed overnight and took centuries to develop emerging from repression of thought; but once it did, it was contagious and spread across the small arms of the North Sea that are the Skagerrak and the Sound to Norway and Sweden respectively.
It is no coincidence that the Nordic nations have stood out within the last several years at the top of the list in standard of living, quality of life exhibited by the fairly evenly distributed income and wealth within their respective populations. This is the historical backdrop in which the Nobel Foundation is set in Norway. Not peace seen as a platitude in the absence of war, but peace as a “Categorical Imperative”—a thing-in-itself if I could borrow Emmanuel Kant’s terminology.
In 2019, however, when the five person committee should have understood peace as exalted and sublime, the man they chose to be at the receiving end proved to embody anything but peace. Abiy Ahmed Ali, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, has been an antithesis to what the committee and prize stand for– a man of a psychological make up in sharp contrast to the political history Norway is a product of.
It is rather prudent then to ask the obvious—what exactly went wrong? A hasty decision without rigorous vetting? Were they duped? Or were they fully aware that Abiy was a quack, a charlatan, and a hustler? If the case is the latter, he has proven them right by sending Ethiopia’s National Defense Force in partnership with Eritrea and its armed forces to Tigray, to rape young girls, to kill young men, fathers, mothers, to loot, desecrate religious centers including churches and mosques, and to vandalize hospitals, factories, schools, and academic institutions.
Rape went on unabated, the killing went on in full swing, the destruction persisted with a passionate zeal, in the meantime the Nobel Peace Committee has opted for silence—a silence not indicative of remorse but a silence draped in an eerie indifference. What has unleashed on Tigray is not only the tragic stain on the reputation of the Nobel Peace Committee, but what Abiy is doing goes against what Norway and Scandinavia are known for: he has destroyed any idea or notion of a state in which political institutions perfectly orbit with transparency, accountability and rule of law.
History, rightly so, recognized Norway when it refused to collaborate with the Nazis in the late 1930s, as the country remained true to its pacifist philosophy. In the here and now though, how will Tigrayans and posterity remember Norway? This is a serious moral question. Would Abiy be emboldened to commit all the atrocities in Tigray if he hadn’t been awarded the Peace Prize that he has used as cover to unleash his “Law and Order Enforcement” operation?
Generation of Tigrayans will wrestle with the moral question, so will a handful of Norwegians—I believe. But there is a chance for generations of Tigrayans to remember Norway and the Nobel Peace Committee in good light if the latter were to have the moral courage to do the right thing. To resign not now or tomorrow but to resign yesterday!