The Nobel Peace Prize is by now a running gag—or rather a running sore. Like the Prize for Literature, given nearly every year to an untalented anti-writer as obscure in his own country as he is in the rest of the world, the Peace Prize is generally awarded to failures, like the 1998 winners from Northern Ireland who are no longer speaking to each other, or to complete cynics like Henry Kissinger who consigned an allied and dependent nation to devastation and slaughter. In 1906, the prize went to Theodore Roosevelt, the bullying imperialist who once opined, “What this country needs is a good war”; the 1919 recipient was Woodrow Wilson, who had just dragged his country through an unnecessary European war whose conclusion would set the stage for the rise of the Nazis and round two of the European bloodbath.
Occasionally the prize for literature has gone to authentic writers (Eliot, Mauriac, Camus, Andric), and—less frequently—the Peace Prize is given to some genuinely humane person like Albert Schweitzer and (unless I am mistaken) Ralph Bunche. This year, however, is not one of the exceptions. Günter Grass, leftist activist and propagandist, received the Prize for Literature, and the recipient of the Peace Prize is Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Grass, a self-described “Spätaufklärer” (illuminatus-come-lately) who hates his country and opposed its reunification (which spoiled the communist experiment in the east), is a perfect match for the doctors who hate borders and the nations they protect.
Everyone has heard of these humble men of healing who wander the world looking for sick people to minister to, and although the Weekly Standard has gushed over the wisdom of the committee, the borderless doctors (like most global do-gooders) are practicing charity according to a double standard. While MSF claims to reject political labels and entanglements, the very title of the organization more than implies its members’ contempt for nations and historic traditions. Like the cynical doctors of fiction and film (think of William Holden in John Ford’s The Horse Soldiers, Bones on Star Trek), these “scientists” look at a world of love, poetry, and faith and see so many carcasses to be dosed or cut. Nations are only conspiracies or bands of gangsters determined to make the lives of their own and other peoples miserable.
Any pretense to humanity or impartiality was dropped in late October when the Médecins decided to expel the Greek branch for sending doctors to Serbia during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia. MSF was thrown out of Kosovo last July when it refused to communicate with or through the Yugoslav government, but only with nongovernmental organizations. This was a blatantly political move on the part of MSF, implicitly rejecting Yugoslavia’s sovereignty and slyly conniving at the “legitimacy” of the self-styled government of Ibrahim Rugova.
Smarting from the Serbs’ rejection, MSF was angered when the Greek branch was able to negotiate an exception in its favor. The Greeks may have technically violated MSF rules which prohibit working under government auspices, but this is hardly the first occasion when the organization’s doctors, officially or not, were forced to work within state guidelines, and the mask of nonviolent partiality slipped more than a little when some of its members were caught in 1993 near Srebrenica with a cache of ammunition carefully concealed under blankets and medicine chests. MSF blamed, variously, the Serbs and their Muslim driver.
The Greek physicians do admit that they made use of the friendly ties which have existed between the two Orthodox countries, but they insist they were only living up to the MSF charter, which promises to help both sides in a conflict regardless of ethnicity. But in expelling their Greek colleagues, Médecins Sans Frontières—however inconsistent they have been in their humanitarianism—have shown themselves consistent to their globalist vision that refuses to recognize the significance of nations. I am tempted to say that the Peace Prize should be taken away from an organization that has so disgraced it, but the Prize is itself a badge of dishonor, and MSF should wear it with pride.