Trolls are a Scandinavian invention, straight from the frigid sagas of Norse mythology, but Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a Norwegian parliamentarian, swears that he is not one. Observers of his antics this week could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. On Wednesday, he announced that he had nominated Donald J. Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. “Can you name a person who has done more for peace than President Trump?” Tybring-Gjedde asked me, insisting that the question was a serious one. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, agreed. ”This is a hard-earned and well-deserved honor for the president,” she said. Tybring-Gjedde defended his nomination on Fox News remotely, and to me in person at a café in Oslo. “Do we give the prize to Greta Thunberg, for screaming about the environment?” he asked. “The agreement he made between Israel and the United Arab Emirates could mean peace between Israel and the Arab world. That is like the [Berlin] Wall falling down.” Today the White House reportedly will announce that Bahrain, another Gulf monarchy, will recognize Israel.
If Trump wins the prize, it will be the fourth Nobel awarded for peace between Israel and its neighbors. (The announcement will come on October 9.) That will make Arab-Israeli peace mediators more successful at charming the Nobel Committee than the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has won three times in the prize’s 120-year history, but still less successful than my favorite, which is no one at all. The committee has declined to award a peace prize 19 times, most recently in 1972. (The next year, in a decision so trollish it might have come out of the Prose Edda, they awarded the prize to Henry Kissinger.) Giving the peace prize to no one at all is a tradition the Nobel Committee should revive, perhaps on a permanent basis. The record of achievement of the peace laureates is so spotty, and the rationales for their awards so eclectic, that the committee should take a long break to consider whether peace is a category coherent enough to be worth recognizing. Peace had its chance, and blew it. The Trump nomination—one of hundreds, including this second from a Swede—helps show why.