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Nobel Committee Has Made a Colossal Fool of Itself

By Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph - October 14, 2012

 Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union prompts, above all, one question: is it too late for Alfred Nobel’s heirs to ask for their money back? With the commendation first of Al Gore, and then a neophyte Barack Obama, the prize committee was generally agreed to have made a colossal fool of itself. But yesterday’s announcement transcended the critics’ wildest dreams. To take this decision seriously would be to give the Nobel committee a status that, many would argue, it no longer deserves. Indeed, the greatest service it has done is not to diplomacy, but to comedy. How delicious to witness the parade of Eurocrats shutting their ears to the cacophonous mockery yesterday, as they modestly expressed their surprise and pleasure. And what bliss to imagine the same self-important dignatories trotting up to the podium on December 10: Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Martin Schulz (the president of the European Parliament, for any non-members of the Schulz family) or perhaps even, if the gods are very kind indeed, Baroness Ashton. If one could only harness the sheer self-regard that will be exuded as they mouth their pious platitudes, the Continent’s energy crisis would be over at a stroke.

Yet at the same time, the committee has – entirely accidentally – put its finger on the EU’s great flaw, one that threatens to undo just those accomplishments for which it is being lauded. It is the extent to which the union, and the European project more generally, is not a matter for discussion, but sanctification. Anything that promotes closer union is seen as wise and just, even if it does terrible harm. Criticism is dismissed not simply as unfair, but actively malign – intended, according to the depressingly common rhetoric, to pull Europe back into the darkness of the 1940s.

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