Many say that the Nobel prize for peace was long overdue for Jimmy Carter. Carter’s honour this year, according to the chairman of the awards committee, should be interpreted as the Nobel committee’s righteous objection to George W. Bush’s posture of aggression against Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
Carter had claimed earlier that he would have voted against the recent senate resolution that gave Bush the carte blanche to attack Iraq even without the support of the United Nations. Some branded him a traitor, citing his letter to world leaders asking them not to support the United States of America-led allied forces on the eve of the Kuwait war. The timing of the Nobel prize is significant, because most of Europe is not too supportive of Bush’s current stand.
But this is not the first controversial Nobel peace award. The selection of the former US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, in 1973 and the former South African president, F.W. de Klerk in 1993 were not universally welcomed. The 2001 prize, which went to the UN and its secretary-general, Kofi Annan, who seemed to value “peace over justice and freedom”, appeared to be given for a lack of choice. Mikhail Gorbachev’s award came to be regarded as a recognition of his contribution to the dissolution of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
Not above board
The only person in the history of the Nobel peace prize to do a kind of Woody Allen at the Oscars was the communist leader from North Vietnam, Le Duc Tho, who refused the Nobel honour and went on, ignobly, to overrun South Vietnam and invade Cambodia.
However, evidence unearthed only recently on American action during the previous Afghanistan crisis does not shed a kind light on Carter. It suggests that Carter secretly approved of the efforts of the Central Intelligence Agency to topple the government of Afghanistan in July, 1979, knowing full well that US actions were likely to trigger Soviet reaction.
An explosive interview with Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brezinski, very recently made available in English, implicates Carter in the whole murky business. The interview would dispel the commonly-held belief that there was an invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union on December 24, 1979, in response to which the US and the Muslim countries rallied to help Afghanistan drive out the invaders.
What lay beneath
The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, in his memoirs, From the Shadows, states clearly that American intelligence agencies began to aid the mujahedins in Afghanistan almost six months before the Soviet intervention, the period during which Brezinski was the security adviser to Carter.
According to the official history, CIA aid to the mujahedins began only in 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But according to Brezinski, it was on July 3, 1979 that Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Brezinski wrote a note to Carter on the same day saying that the aid would induce a Soviet military intervention.
When the Soviets justified their intervention as a fight against the secret involvement of the US in Afghanistan, they could not convince too many people. Brezinski called the secret operation an “excellent” idea. Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about a demoralization, and finally the break-up, of the Soviet empire.
“What is most important to the history of the world' The taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire' Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of central Europe and the end of the Cold War'” Brezinski asked in favour of Carter. The Muslims the Carter-Brezinski duo managed to stir up have now emerged as the biggest threat to global peace and security. So, whether Carter has finally won his Nobel laurels or not, such awards will continue to be debated, and not without reason.