A Nobel Peace Prize for Trump? He deserves it more than many of the recipients
Michael Chugani says ‘Trumplomacy’ – the US president’s unique style of diplomacy – has achieved results in a shorter time than his predecessors
A Nobel Peace Prize for US President Donald Trump? Go for it, I say. If a US congressional group can nominate Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang for the prize, who’s to say it’s preposterous that war-talking Trump deserves a peacemaker prize?
Hong Kong’s trio got nominated for leading the democracy struggle during the 2014 Occupy movement. But Trump has achieved a promise of actual peace on the Korean peninsula. Did any of you, even in your wildest dreams, imagine North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would suddenly play nice by offering to give up his nuclear arsenal in return for a peace treaty?
Republican congressman Luke Messer of Indiana is gathering congressional support to nominate Trump. South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he deserves it. Hate Trump all you want. You won’t be alone. There’s a whole army of Trump-bashers out there. I shift between abhorring and admiring him. American democracy allows me, an American, to do that.
But blinding ourselves to his astonishing achievements after just over a year in office would be ignoble. Bill Clinton signed a framework deal which eventually collapsed. His successors George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who both served two terms each, couldn’t do much on North Korea, either. Trump made progress in just over one year.
He’s no idiot even though US media reported over the weekend that White House chief of staff John Kelly had called him one, which Kelly denied. Trump’s war-talking threat to blow North Korea to bits had the astounding effect of bringing peace.
He’s no carrot-and-stick man. He’s an all-stick gunslinger who keeps adversaries guessing. It’s brash diplomacy, which I call Trumplomacy.
It spooked Kim enough to mend fences with President Xi Jinping, to talk peace with Moon and to seek a denuclearisation summit with Trump. I am convinced it even played a part in Xi rolling out the red carpet for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose new-found cosiness with Trump, Japan and Australia has got Beijing on edge.
Trump’s roller-coaster year in office has not only changed the way American politics work, it has changed global politics. Political alliances are shifting. China knows it has to open its markets as it comes under pressure from Trump, which has emboldened Europe to turn the screws too. His threatened trade war with China and attacks on the media have solidified rather than weakened his voter base. His campaign-style rally in Michigan over the weekend drew rapturous applause from blue-collar workers who shouted “Nobel, Nobel”.
Will he be awarded the prize? Or maybe win it jointly with Kim and Moon? Will Wong, Law and Chow become Hong Kong’s first laureates? Or, Xi jointly with Modi perhaps, leaders of the world’s two most populous countries which are also nuclear nations, for wisely backing off from possible war during the Doklam border stand-off? We’ll know soon enough.
Trump being a Nobel laureate will nauseate many. But let’s face it, there have been less worthy recipients. Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi springs to mind. Her courage as a democracy fighter that won her the prize has morphed into blind-eyed indifference towards the plight of the Rohingya people.
Obama, whom I admire, became the 2009 laureate less than nine months into his presidency when he had achieved no peace breakthroughs. He was awarded the prize for his calls to reduce global nuclear stockpiles. But, years later, the Nobel committee’s secretary confessed that awarding Obama the prize failed to achieve what the committee had hoped it would.
For now, Trump winning is a long shot. But who knows? The Trump-Kim summit has yet to happen. A narcissist and a dictator talking denuclearisation is the stuff of Hollywood films. If Kim walks the talk and Trump reciprocates, a North-South peace treaty could replace the armistice after more than six decades, ushering in a nuclear-free Korea. Now, that is the stuff of a Nobel Prize.
Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong journalist and TV show host