'Peace:' A noble concept that needs to be taken more seriously
Many peopled were bewildered by President Barack Obama's 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, less than a year into his term. It clearly was prospective rather than in recognition of any particular policy or achievement to that point.
This year's award to the entire European Union is even more curious.
It's true that Europe no longer is the cauldron of world war, as it was for much of the previous three centuries, but that is far from a function solely of the European Union.
While the E.U. has established formal ties and complex webs of interaction that contribute to the peace, the continent hardly is a web of tranquility. Broad economic disparity and financial problems continue to generate great civil unrest in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland as residents recoil from the new era of austerity mandated by the E.U.'s central players.
The Peace Prize can serve a valuable purpose by drawing attention to situations where individuals have shown extraordinary leadership and personal courage, and often have endured great personal sacrifice in the cause of peace, such as Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi.
But the committee seems to have a penchant for stunts like the E.U. award that detract, in the long run, from the true purpose of the enterprise.