King Faisal and the 1972 Nobel Peace Prize



Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Published — Saturday 20 October 2012

Last update 20 October 2012 2:46 pm

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In 1973, the British English instructor at our high school, James Patrick Lee, a very well informed person about international events wanted me to write an article for the school English paper about the Nobel Prize. During that time, on Dec. 10, 1973, both Dr. Henry Kissinger, the former American Secretary of State and Le Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese special adviser were awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. During the ceremony, the Vietnamese nominee was not present and declined to accept the prize. He turned down the award which was given to him for his role in the cease-fire as special adviser to the North Vietnamese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference which began in 1968. He refused it because the US didn’t follow some of the conditions for the cease-fire.
As a student in 1973, I started the difficult task of finding information at a time when the Internet was a science fiction. I gave the one-page article to my teacher and from that day, I developed an interest in the Nobel Peace Prize and I started to read about how the Nobel Peace Prize Committee decides when and why a politician or an organization deserves the award.
Two years later, in 1975, I was reminded of my high school on two occasions. One was on Jan. 6, 1975 when King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (1964-1975) was chosen to be the man of the year by the very well respected Time magazine. The other time was on May 15, 1975 when the United States announced the official end of the Vietnam War.
On these two dates in 1975, I was still taking English courses at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. At that time, there were many South Vietnamese at the American base for English training. And we started talking about the Vietnam War with many US Air Force officers who participated in the war and one of them told me that the many people wondered why the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. Henry Kissinger and Le Doc Tho for their efforts to end the Vietnam War, even though the war ended a year and a half after the award ceremony. But I was surprised by a comment from one of the US Air Force officers who had been to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East many times and very well informed about the Middle East politics when he said, the 1972 or the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize should have been awarded to the Saudi King (Faisal) for his role in stopping the spread of communism in the Middle East and Africa.
From the 1950s to the fall of communism, Saudi Arabia was the steel wall against the spread of communism. In later months in 1975, I have read many books about the Nobel Peace Prize Committee and the mechanism of the nomination for the prize. And it has been mentioned many times that King Faisal was able to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East without the use of force. He used his influence and charisma to achieve this. King Faisal was the first political figure who predicted the fall of communism at the peak of the Cold War.
And in September 1975, I sent a registered letter to the Nobel Prize Committee. I sent it from a post office located on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, New York. In the letter, I was asking if there were any other candidates for the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize besides Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho and I asked why the 1972 Nobel Peace Prize was blocked and was not awarded to any person or organization. I got no answer and I wasn’t expecting to be answered.
In 1976, one year after the death of King Faisal, a foundation was established in Saudi Arabia and was named King Faisal International Prize. Now, it is one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the world. The foundation awards are in many fields, such as services to Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic language and literature, science and medicine. From that time till today, about 12 Nobel Prize winners were former King Faisal International Prize winners. The award ceremony is held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
I think the Nobel Prize is the most prestigious prize any person or organization can receive. The Nobel Prize committees, beyond any doubt, have the best intention to serve the world, promote peace and appreciate the work of scientists, politicians and organizations. But from time to time the Nobel Peace nominations have raised some controversies. This year’s nomination of the EU as the Nobel Peace Prize winner is an example. The EU is facing the most difficult time in its history. And we all know that Norwegian people voted against joining the EU in 1972 and 1994.
Many news followers of the Nobel Peace Prize agree that a Nobel Peace Prize is not meant for future predictions. In 1973, the Nobel Peace Prize was give to Dr. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for the peace negotiations for a war that ended years after the nomination. And in 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the American President, Barack Obama, short time after he assumed the presidency. And the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo from China, and with this award, a nation of more than billion people was not appreciated for the biggest and most impressive achievements in political, social, democratic and economic development in modern history. China wasn’t happy with the award. And to this day, I always ask myself: Why the blocked 1972 Nobel Peace Prize wasn’t awarded to King Faisal for his efforts to stop the spread of communism without any armed confrontations. Also, King Faisal was one of the most respected world figures at the time. But, at the end of the day, we should thank the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for all their very highly appreciated efforts and we all know they meant well and they too deserve the Nobel Peace Prize themselves.

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