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The Nobel Peace Prize Would Seriously Harm Merkel: This Is Why

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Benjamin Prüfer
MERKEL REFUGEES © ASSOCIATED PRESS MERKEL REFUGEES


The Nobel Prize Committee in Oslo will announce the 2015 Peace Prize grantee tomorrow-- and Angela Merkel is the top contender. But if the Nobel Committee does end up giving it to the chancellor, it would severely harm her.
It's not just experts who seem certain that she will win. Online betting sites suggest that the decision will fall in her favor. On the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, her odds are currently at 5:4. It doesn't matter which bookie you choose: Merkel is always the favorite.
There are other reasons to believe that she'll get it. For instance, in recent years, the Nobel Committee has developed the habit of using the prize to make a statement. They give it to people who have been under fire for the decisions they've made; the prize is meant to support and motivate them. And Merkel is definitely under attack from all sides right now.
Two previous examples: In 2012, the prize went to the European Union, which was under fire at the time because of its handling of the Greek crisis. In 2009, Barack Obama claimed the prize. But the Nobel Committee did him a disservice; the announcement spurred a debate, in which many people questioned whether he deserved it. The U.S. president acknowledge their concerns; he admitted that he was "surprised" by the decision. Winners don't typically sound like that.
It was a bad decision. Committee member Geir Lundestad later wrote in a book that the decision did not end up having the desired effect-- to support Obama. Instead, Obama was criticized for his Nobel Prize. "In that sense the committee didn't achieve what it had hoped for," wrote Lundestad.
The Nobel Peace Prize is a burden. There's no better way to wipe out a politician's approval ratings.
And as a Nobel Prize winner, Merkel would not be in exclusively illustrious company. Among the winners are: Yasser Arafat (who was responsible for the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics), Henry Kissinger (who dropped twice as many bombs on Indochina as were dropped during all of World War II), and Fritz Haber (who produced chlorine gas, which was used as a weapon during World War I).
"The discussion almost depresses me," the prime minister announced October 7 on the German television network ARD talk show Anne Will. She's currently busy with other things. She is faced with the challenging task of handling the influx of asylum seekers.
It only happened once that someone rejected the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1973, the North Vietnamese negotiator Lê Đức Thọ refused the prize he was due to receive for the Paris Peace Treaty between North and South Vietnam. His reasoning: Indochina was still a long way from finding peace.
He was right. The chief American negotiator, Henry Kissinger, who was awarded the prize for the same peace treaty, had already accepted his. We don't know how Kissinger felt about his medal when he saw the images of the Vietnamese boat people after the collapse of South Vietnam, or when he heard about the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge.
The refugee crisis, too, is a long way from being resolved. Merkel is only getting started. Giving her the Nobel Prize for allowing refugees to enter Germany from Hungary would only harm her. It's exactly what her right-wing opponents are waiting for. Please, please, Nobel Prize Committee: Give the thing to Pope Francis. He'd be happy to accept it.
The chancellor has finally shown that she can make big, controversial gestures. That's what she has done with statements like: "This is not my country" and "We can do this." It would be wiser for Merkel to refuse the prize. If she is actually offered the prize, these are the words we would like to hear: "Sorry! I have more important things to do right now!"
This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany and was translated into English.

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