Peace Ain’t What It Used to Be

Since 1900, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a group or individual who has furthered the cause of world peace. Recipients have included Henry Durant, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, another name can be added, rather ironically, to the long list of distinguished Nobel Laureates: the European Union (EU). This has sparked a great deal of controversy and criticism in the EU, especially among its more distressed members.

Across the confederation, unrest has spread like wildfire, ranging from resentment towards Germany –  the region’s economic anchor – to riots in the streets of Athens. “What next?” scoffed Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders. In France, criticism came from both sides of the aisle, from the socialist left to the anti-immigrant right. Marine Le Pen, who leads the far-right National Front, believes that the Nobel committee must “come down from their ivory tower and see what is going on on the ground.”

In Spain and Greece, two nations hit especially hard by the global recession, there is nothing but disbelief. “The way things are going,” said Giorgos Dertilis, “[p]eace is the one thing we might not have.” Still, clear thinkers from all corners of the continent agree. European lawmaker Daniel Hannan noted that “Parody is redundant.” Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, called the award “an absolute disgrace.” In fact, the Independence Party believes that Great Britain, who has maintained a Channel-wide relationship with the EU, should withdraw from the Union entirely.

BBC correspondent Robert Peston wondered whether everyone would get a share of the prize money. If divided evenly amongst the EU’s 500 million residents, the $1.2 million prize would equal out to one quarter (1/4) of a cent per person, or $0.025. Underscoring the absurdity of the situation, Peston recently asked his Twitter followers, “What will you spend yours on?”