Odds favor Greta Thunberg for Peace Prize, but experts skeptical

Updated 09 October 2019

Odds favor Greta Thunberg for Peace Prize, but experts skeptical

  • The 16-year-old has already received Amnesty International’s top honor and the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes dubbed the “alternative Nobel”
  • “The only way I could see that happen is that she would be part of a shared prize like Malala,” a Peace Research Institute official said

OSLO: Bookmakers seem confident that Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is a shoo-in for the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced this week, but some experts are more cautious.
The 16-year-old has already received Amnesty International’s top honor and the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes dubbed the “alternative Nobel,” and online betting sites like Ladbrokes now put her as favorite to win what is perhaps the world’s most prestigious prize.
In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS in August, Thunberg stressed that while the award would be “a recognition for this movement,” she and her supporters weren’t “doing this to get awards and prizes.”
In August last year, she began sitting alone in front of Sweden’s parliament on Fridays with a sign reading “School Strike for the Climate.”
In a little more than a year, she has galvanized millions of young people around the world to take part in demonstrations to raise awareness for action on climate change.
She made global headlines in late September when she lambasted world leaders at the UN climate summit in New York.
“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she told them, holding back tears.
But is her impassioned wake-up call enough to earn her the Nobel Peace Prize?
“Extremely unlikely,” Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (Prio), told AFP, citing two reasons for his skepticism.
He argued that while some say climate change might aggravate conflicts in his view there is still no consensus on whether it is actually the cause of armed conflict. He also said her tender age could make the prize more of a burden than a reward.
“The only way I could see that happen is that she would be part of a shared prize like Malala,” Urdal said, referring to Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who shared the 2014 prize — at age 17 — with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Norwegian historian Asle Sveen echoed that view.
“Of course she is now an international star, in conflict with Donald Trump, and she put the searchlight on climate change better than anyone else,” he said.
“What’s against her is that she is only 16 years old,” he continued, adding that he would be “very surprised” if she got the award.
But Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), believes Thunberg should be considered a “serious candidate” and that climate change is linked to conflict.
“First of all, I think that what she has done over the past year is extraordinary,” Smith told AFP.
“I think that climate change is an issue which is strongly related to security and peace.”
Experts think a more likely candidate would be Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who made peace with bitter foe Eritrea.
“Abiy Ahmed would be a good candidate, as his tenure has had peace-inducing effects in the country and on the region,” said Peter Wallensteen, professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Sweden’s Uppsala University.
Predicting the winner is always a challenge since the Norwegian Nobel Committee never reveals the names of the nominees. All that is known is that a total of 301 individuals and organizations have been nominated this year.
Experts also suggest that the five-person committee could this year decide to focus on freedom of expression and information, at a time when such freedoms are under pressure in both democracies and authoritarian regimes.
“In the age of fake news and information overload... and the lack of transparency, the lack of accountability in many political processes, this is something that I would hope the committee would take very seriously and consider,” Urdal said.
Press organizations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) or the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) could then be possible winners.
As the migration crisis continues to dominate the political agenda, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and its head Filippo Grandi, as well as the organization SOS Mediterranee, are also seen as potential winners.
Broadly considered a controversial long shot, US President Donald Trump has nonetheless been mentioned for his efforts to mend old wounds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The 2019 laureate will be revealed on Friday at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
Last year, the award — consisting of a gold medal, a diploma, and nine million Swedish kronor — was given to two champions fighting sexual violence, Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad.


Donald Trump Jr.: provocateur, master preacher for father

Updated 44 min 41 sec ago

Donald Trump Jr.: provocateur, master preacher for father

  • The son has become the prime warmup act for the father at political rallies
  • He has not shied away from the spotlight or criticism
SAN ANTONIO, Texas: The shout of “2024!” from the crowd was unmistakable. It stopped Donald Trump Jr. cold.
President Donald Trump’s eldest son had been in the midst of a humor-laced screed in which he decried Joe Biden as too old and Elizabeth Warren as too liberal and insisted his father’s 2016 campaign was too disorganized to possibly collude with the Russians. As many in the crowd of several hundred laughed, Trump Jr. held a dramatic pause before exclaiming his response:
“Let’s worry about 2020 first!” he yelled.
The son has become the prime warmup act for the father at political rallies, often appearing more than an hour before the president speaks, another bombastic provocateur who revels in the tribal loyalty of the supporters who pack Trump rallies. It is a call to arms to a fawning crowd and Donald Jr. has become a master preacher.
His speeches are laced with the same incendiary, sometimes false rhetoric as his father’s, at times even questioning whether Democrats can call themselves Christians. But in these venues, his word is gospel.
The “2024” call from the audience at a San Antonio convention center room on Tuesday underscored the rising stardom of the president’s eldest son, who has become the swaggering embodiment of the “Make America Great Again” ethos.
By far the presidential scion with the closest connection to conservative voters, Trump Jr. is already playing a key role in his father’s reelection effort, especially in strongly Republican districts. But where he was once under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, now he is drawing criticism for seemingly hypocritical attacks on another son of a famous politician.
And he doesn’t seem to care at all.
“In 2016, my father said something very serious. He goes: ‘What do you have to lose?’ And he was right,” said Trump Jr, broadening a pitch the president first made to black voters to reach the entire electorate. “So America, you gave him a chance and he has delivered on those promises. Now, what do you have to lose? A lot.”
And then Trump Jr, who was the headliner on this warm October day, gleefully skewered one of the president’s Democratic foes. “Joe Biden, when on the campaign trail, his whole thesis was that government has failed. No s--t, Joe!“
Trump Jr. was one of the campaign’s potent tools in 2016, frequently sent out to small towns and rural areas where the Republican candidate looked to turn out disaffected voters who hadn’t cast ballots in years. An even more aggressive campaign schedule is in the works for 2020.
“He’s the future,” said Annie Davidson, 65, of Alamo Heights. “He’s just like his father and I can’t wait to vote for him someday too.”
By far the most outspoken of his siblings, Trump Jr. has never shied away from a political fight, even when it leads some to question his own sense of self-awareness.
He has been one of the loudest critics of Biden’s son Hunter, suggesting that Hunter Biden only had opportunities in other countries, including Ukraine, because of family connections.
“When you’re the father and your son’s entire career is dependent on that, they own you,” Trump Jr. told Fox News this past week.
Some critics could not resist noting that Donald Trump Jr. shares both the first and last names of a man who gave him his high-paying corporate job and elevated his standing during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was the president’s push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens that prompted House Democrats to launch an impeachment investigation.
“We’re left with a situation where every presidential action is under a cloud of suspicion for corruption, and that suspicion increasingly seems justified,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Trump Jr. has pushed back, suggesting that his criticism of Hunter Biden was not for having a famous father, but rather for trading access to his father’s office to enrich himself. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden
Hunter Biden told ABC this past week that while his decision to take the job was not unethical, it showed “poor judgment.” But he also made clear that “Trump Jr. is not somebody that I really care about.”
Moreover, despite a pledge to immediately cease all international business once the president took office, the Trump Organization has continued to work on previously struck agreements and profited from the presidency. Congress has called for investigations into foreign officials being steered to stay at the Trump hotel in Washington and Air Force crew members spending nights at Trump’s Scotland golf resort.
Trump Jr.’s eyebrow-raising attacks on another political son came just days after he had to distance himself from a headline-grabbing tempest when it was revealed that he had recently attended a Florida conference for Trump supporters where a parody video was screened that depicted the president killing members of the news media and political opponents.
Trump Jr. said he never saw the video, which aired as part of a three-day conference at the president’s golf club outside Miami. But Trump Jr., who prides himself in his ability to use social media to poke at liberals, was quick to draw an equivalency on Friday. He used Twitter to point out an apparel company’s Midtown Manhattan billboard that depicted the president being assaulted.
“Since you had time to thoroughly cover a stupid and tasteless meme seen by 8 people with incredible outrage, I figured you should dedicate the same time and outrage to THIS BILLBOARD IN TIMES SQUARE you hypocrites!” he tweeted. “Unless of course you’re just full of s--t.”
Trump Jr. has long relished posting button-pushing tweets. His Twitter feed has traded in conspiracy theories and hard-line messages about immigration and gun control and he has a book on the way that hits the same themes. He once circulated a post that compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles candy that contained some that “would kill you.”
Trump Jr. declined a request for an interview for this story.
He is unbowed and unapologetic, and his approach appears to mirror his father’s combative defiance toward the controversies that swirl around the White House and the Trump family.
Though he runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric, Trump Jr.’s political obligations frequently keep him far from his office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. The more politically minded of the two brothers, Trump Jr. has embraced his role as a popular emissary for his father, crisscrossing the country on campaign trips, showcasing his relationship with former Fox News host Kim Guilfoyle and headlining Republican fundraisers.
Though he grew up in Manhattan and Florida’s gilded coast, Trump Jr. has established deep ties among rural Republicans and has become an outspoken defender of the Second Amendment. He is viewed by many close to the president as a more logical political heir apparent than his sister, the far more cosmopolitan and refined Ivanka Trump. Where Ivanka Trump, a senior White House aide, has taken to promoting women’s and economic issues while hovering in diplomatic circles at international summits, Trump Jr.’s Instagram feed is filled with hunting and fishing photos.
In 2018, he did more than 70 events for GOP candidates and state parties and will easily eclipse that next year when his father’s name is on the ballot. Those close to him say he may run for office someday, but probably not until after his five children are considerably older.
His front-and-center role for the campaign is a relatively unusual one for recent presidential offspring. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton had children too young to campaign. And while President George H.W. Bush’s adult children — including a future president — were in Washington at times, they did not assume the star presence of Trump Jr.
He has not shied away from the spotlight or criticism, having been battle-hardened by the pressure he faced during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which looked into a 2016 meeting Trump Jr. had with a Kremlin-connected lawyer seeking damaging information on Hillary Clinton. No charges were brought against him.
On the campaign trail, Trump Jr. derides the impeachment inquiry and credits his father’s business acumen for economic gains, declaring in San Antonio: “It’s nice to have someone running the country who has signed the front of a paycheck and not just the back.”
The crowd roared and Guilfoyle applauded. After the rally, the eldest Trump son headlined a big-dollar dinner in Texas and, days later, was barnstorming in West Virginia for more Republican candidates.
There was more talk of, someday, a possible Trump political dynasty.
“I expect Don to be a player in the conservative movement for years and years to come,” said Andrew Surabian, a Republican strategist who advises Trump Jr.