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Nobel Peace Prize Nominees:

The Nobel Committee has an interesting database of all the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize from 1901 to 1951. Nominations are kept secret for 50 years. Nominees who, like unrepentant multiple murderer Stanley Williams, do not appear to have deserved the nomination include:

Mussolini (1935, by a French law professor, and by the law faculty at a German university);
Stalin (1948, by a Czech professor)(also, 1945 by a former Norweign foreign minister, although the minister only wrote that Stalin was qualified for the prize, and did not formally nominate him);
Kaiser Wilhelm II (1911, by the President of UC Berkeley; 1917, by a German professor and by a Turkish law faculty);
Hitler (1939, by a member of the Swedish parliament, although the nomination was withdrawn before the Committee considered it);
Alfred Ploetz (the founder of racial hygiene in Germany; 1936 by a Norwegian parliamentarian, for warning that war would harm biological reproduction);
Neville Chamberlin (somewhat plausibly in 1926 for his role in the Locarno Pact; less so in 1939, with 9 nominations for his role in the Munich Agreement).

Visitor Again:
Unrepentant mass murderer Henry Kissinger. Of course he won the damn thing. So unrepentant mass murderer Harry Truman.
11.29.2005 3:31am
Dave G:

Not sure why Neville Chamberlin is on the list. He seems a perfect fit given the more recent winners.
11.29.2005 3:52am
John Thacker (mail):
Kaiser Wilhelm II, eh? Kaiser Wilhelm I I could at least understand, though he would have been nominated in 1871 or 1872 for adjucating the San Juan Islands dispute between the US and Canada.
11.29.2005 9:37am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Am I the only one who thinks Yuriy's post is at least as helpful as Visitor's? :)
11.29.2005 9:59am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I shouldn't have referred to the spam... might as well delete my prior post as well now.

I still find the comparison of Truman to Tookie Williams to be slightly loony.
11.29.2005 10:13am
Max Weinberg:
Depends on how you view the bomb, right? There's a serious moral argument that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the most vile single-act crimes ever perpetrated.

Not sure whether I agree with it. But the comparison certainly isn't loony.
11.29.2005 10:38am
Houston Lawyer:
For a comparison of Tookie Williams and Truman, go to the funeral of a WWII vet, who died peacefully at home 60 years after the war's end rather than on the shores of Japan, and ask his relatives what they think.
11.29.2005 10:44am
Per Son:
Houston:

I have disagreed with you many times, but your last post truly hits the nail on the head. My grandfather was slated to be part of the first invasion - instead he died in peace as an old man, surrounded by loved ones, an hour after telling my brother and I that he loved us very much.
11.29.2005 10:58am
Max Weinberg:
Come on now, Houston Lawyer. But I'll refrain from the obvious rejoinder(s) -- certainly not interested in rehashing the a-bomb debate here. Just making the point that the original poster's POV isn't loony.

I am a bit perplexed by conservative obsession with the Tookie Williams case. The fixation of old school lefties on cause celebre executions is easy to get, for reasons that are obvious once you accept the world view of the people in question. But holding "Tookie Must Die" vigils when you're in no way related to the family? Who are these people?

I can understand the abstract arguments in favor of retribution; I can understand believing that people like Tookie Williams should be executed as a matter of social policy. But the gleeful engagement in advocating his posthaste elimination from existence is bizarre and grisly. With everything else going on in the world, *this* is the issue that you focus on, *this* is the issue that you research, *this* is the issue that you become a committed advocate on? Just weird.
11.29.2005 11:01am
Per Son:
I believe the people who celebrate and have parties outside of prison death houses are of the same mind of the people in olden times who cheered during public executions and torture - more because it is a spectator sport than concern for the crimes (or alleged crimes).
11.29.2005 11:03am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
How does that show that Visitor's comparison wasn't loony?
11.29.2005 11:04am
Max Weinberg:
Oy. There is a serious moral argument that the use of nuclear weapons against civilians in wartime is a heinous crime. Therefore a comparison of Truman to a garden variety death row convict isn't loony, at least not in the direction of being unfair to Truman. That's pretty much the beginning and end of my point. The "obsession with executions" point is totally unrelated.

Actually, in scrolling back up to look at the original comment, I don't think Visitor even comparing the two; I accepted your characterization of his comment without rereading the original post. Upon re-reading, I think Visitor was just making a random lefty jab.

Anyway, as long as I'm spending part of a lazy morning posting here, I also don't understand the suggestion that being "unrepentant" (in the sense of claiming innocence) should automatically preclude clemency. At least *some* number of the 3-odd thousand people on death row are innocent, right? If their in-prison behavior would be sufficient to trigger clemency for an actually guilty inmate, why should they have to put on a dumb pantomime of repentance to be clemency eligible?
11.29.2005 11:14am
Steve:
I'm sure there were many civilians who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who otherwise might have died peacefully 60 years later, surrounded by family and friends.

With the benefit of 60 years of hindsight, I happen to support Truman's decision, but I dislike the glib assumption that the life of an American soldier is automatically worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians. I'd sure like to think there are better arguments for Truman's decision than that.
11.29.2005 11:16am
Justin (mail):
"Nominees who, like unrepentant multiple murderer Stanley Williams, do not appear to have deserved the nomination"

"garden variety death row convict isn't loony"

The people cheering for the death of someone they know little about based on the fact that cheering for death is pretty much the only way they can know understand society based on their "Christian" worldview (odd, I always learned Christianity to be a religion of peace, but what do I know?) here are completely missing the point.

For Kopel and others to circularly assume the conclusion (that Tookie Williams is undeserving of consideration, a position that I happen to find wrong but the idea of this being obvious is certainly absurd), one has to assume that:

a) anyone who has undertaken the act of killing is undeseved per se (goodbye Kissinger/Lu Duc Tho, and Arafat, who, as people pointed out, have won)

b) anyone who could make a facial claim for execution is undeserved per se (goodbye Kissinger/Lu Duc Tho (war crimes) and Arafat (murder, terrorism, war crimes))

or (the more likely)

c) anyone that it is politically inconvenient for my party to support is per se undeserved (you can add Carter, the IAEA, Kofi Annon, Jody Williams, Arafat, Amnesty International, the ILO, and the Red Cross to this list. At the time, it would be painfully obvious to people like Koppel that Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Woodrow Wilson, and Nelson Mandela were undeserving of the award, but whose keeping score. I suspect Koppel would have less of a problem with Ariel Sharon and Kissinger (in the past) winning the awards, both of which I thought were meritorious but all three of which were in the business of murder. Kissinger didn't win it for FIGHTING the Vietnam war but for ENDING it...Sharon wouldn't win it for his massacre but for his efforts at peace.

Look, the case for Tookie Williams to win the award is clearly not based on his actions as a murderer or a gang leader, but his actions since then, in promoting intragang peace and for dissuading youth to join gangs. I've yet to see someone reject Williams's nomination on those grounds. Arafat was never forced to have turned over the '72 killers. Kissenger was never forced to have admitted committing war crimes in Cambodia. Sharon, when he wins (and he will), will not be forced to recount his role and the role of his co-officers in the massacre that his enemies bring up to this day.

There is not a single, coherent, logical theory that says he is unworthy of even the slightist consideration, or that his nomination is unserious. You can argue that you wouldn't give the award to him, but that's not the topic du jour. You can argue that there are others more deserving even if we focus on the things he was actually nominated for (something I would agree on), but I've yet to see anyone make the argument that this means he was an unserious nominee.

But for a VC member (even one that I will admit to being amongst the group I have the least respect for) to simply assume the conclusion is remarkable in its intellectual dishonesty. And I think we have the right and the obligation to call Koppel on this.

Incidentally, I am equally disgusted by the spector of cheering for death here. If I were to support the death penalty as a policy matter (I obviously do not), I would do so by pointing out all the "other" "garden variety death row loonies" that exist, and stating that the system provides an electably accountable governor to make such decisions.

I also want to comment Eugene Volokh for his treatment (so clearly divorced from Koppell's despite agreement on the greater end) on the issue. While I disagree with Volokh's focus, I think the dispute between my point and his is one that is intellectually honest.
11.29.2005 11:51am
Justin (mail):
PS For those who are unaware, Truman never won the Nobel Peace Prize. A list of winners can be found here:

http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/
11.29.2005 11:52am
Justin (mail):
Apologies for the reference to the wrong numbers of people in my post, I had originally accepted that Truman had won the award and added him to the list, but then my suspicions that this was incorrect led me to check and delete him before hitting post.
11.29.2005 12:03pm
djd (mail):
The published database only runs to 1951 because of confidentiality rules. I'm certain there have been some interesting nominees the last fifty years. Don't forget that Le Duc Tho won the prize in 1972.
11.29.2005 12:03pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):

his actions since then, in promoting intragang peace and for dissuading youth to join gangs. I've yet to see someone reject Williams's nomination on those grounds.


Okay, I'll take a stab (chortle). The prize has traditionally been given for international conflict mediation, human rights activities, and int'l arms control. Williams' efforts may be commendable (your quote above is the sum total of my knowledge), but I don't see how participating in crime-prevention programs qualifies as promoting the cause of world peace. By that logic, I know people in a neighborhood watch program who should get nominated. Which brings me to my next point:

Look, the case for Tookie Williams to win the award is clearly not based on his actions as a murderer or a gang leader


But let's be serious -- that's why he was freakin' nominated. There are kazillions of volunteers out in the real world participating in activities like trying to dissuade gang members from killing each other, or trying to prevent crime in their communities or whatever. But they aren't (for the most part) condemned murderers. That's why people like this guy's story enough to nominate him and, like you, defend his nomination.

Let's face it -- getting a few guys to "quit the gang life" is hardly the same as ending the Russo-Japanese War.
11.29.2005 12:19pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
It's obvious this blog is for lawyers, not historians. Although the Nobel prize was not around prior to the Civil War, I find it hard to believe David K would feign revulsion at Madison or other antebellum Presidents being nominated on the grounds they enforced slavery. In the era in which they were nominated, Stalin was a (recent) ally of the US, FDR had praised Hitler as a good leader for Germany. Meanwhile, at that same time, those who favored limited govt. detested Roosevelt for destroying the American system, a system that today is largely supported even by conservatives who claim to favor limited govt.
11.29.2005 12:29pm
Abdul (mail):
Can we nominate Tookie's guards for the peace prize? Arguably, their efforts have done a lot to perpetuate peace for Southern California's 7-11 clerks as well as members of the Bloods.
11.29.2005 12:29pm
MDJD2B (mail):
<i>With the benefit of 60 years of hindsight, I happen to support Truman's decision, but I dislike the glib assumption that the life of an American soldier is automatically worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians. I'd sure like to think there are better arguments for Truman's decision than that.</i>

Perhaps not, but Truman's responsibility to the people who elected him, and whom he governed, was greater than his responsibility to people against whose country he was at war. Furthermore, had Allied (mostly US) forces invaded Japan, the Japanese civilian toll from the direct effects of military action and from privation may well have been greater than the death toll from the nuclear bombs.

But my questions about Truman's action are (1) why a need for dropping a second bomb, and (2) why couldn't one or both have been dropped in less populous places?
11.29.2005 12:34pm
Shelby (mail):
To perpetuate an apparent tangent:

I dislike the glib assumption that the life of an American soldier is automatically worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians. I'd sure like to think there are better arguments for Truman's decision than that.

Fair enough. But I want my country's wartime commanders to value our citizens' lives (including soldiers) more highly than enemy citizens' lives (including civilians). And whether I want that or not, it will certainly happen. Obviously there's a moral calculus involved -- you don't kill hundreds of civilians to avoid risk of harm to a single soldier. But if Truman sent two hundred thousand American soldiers to die, but could have avoided it while still winning the war, he would be even more monstrous.
11.29.2005 12:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Look, the case for Tookie Williams to win the award is clearly not based on his actions as a murderer or a gang leader, but his actions since then, in promoting intragang peace and for dissuading youth to join gangs.
"So you haven't murdered anybody lately? Let's be best pals." (Name that quote.)

The problem is that your premise is clearly false. The case for Tookie Williams clearly is based on his actions as a murderer or a gang leader.

"His actions since then" do not make him stand out from any one of a million other people who try to dissuade youth from joining gangs. Half the priests and ministers in the world could probably fit into that category, not to mention social workers, law enforcement officers, etc. But nobody has nominated all of them. What makes "Tookie" stand out from that group -- and not in a good way -- is that before he began his antigang activities, he was a murderer.

In contrast, regardless of the merits of awards for Kissinger, Arafat, or any of the other politically controversial choices, the awards were not given for their past activities, but in spite of these activities. Any Palestinian leader who promised peace would have been nominated for the award; any government official who negotiated an end to the Vietnam war would have been nominated. But nobody who worked against gang violence would have been nominated without a murderous past.
11.29.2005 12:42pm
Shelby (mail):
Sorry, I cross-posted with MDJD2B.
11.29.2005 12:44pm
JB:
With the benefit of 60 years of hindsight, we can see that radiation fallout makes nuclear weapons categorically worse than any non-chemical, nonbiological agent.

Truman didn't know that--he thought he was dropping nothing more than a big, intimidating bomb, whose effects would scare the Japanese into surrendering before he had to launch a destructive invasion.

Nobel Peace Prize material? Maybe not. Iconic evil? Certainly not. One of history's biggest victims of hindsight? Certainly.
11.29.2005 1:02pm
subpatre (mail):
It's a "glib assumption" in some people's eyes only because someone else bothered to follow the logic through beforehand. For those that choose internationalism, call the international cops next time you're being robbed, raped, or murdered. The people of Darfur can tell you how much good it'll do.


It doesn't take any hindsight to know that Truman's decision was a lifesaver, for both sides. The rapid surrender saved most of Japan's people, and a large proportion of Germany's population too. Once you add DOD casualty estimates for the assault on Japan (not included in the preceding sentence) it was a no-brainer for Truman.

In Europe the Morgenthau Plan to raze and permanently cripple Germany was almost carried out, hanging on as Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067, before the Marshall Plan was approved in 1947. Germany starved --literally-- for several years despite that.

Coupled with existing anti-Sino sentiment (internments) in the US; it's obvious that Japan would have been burned clean from end to end. There would've been only a few civilians from Hiroshima, Nagasaki..... and Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo or anywhere else left to die peacefully 60 years later; and there would have been no family and friends.

And yes, General Marshal, General of the Army, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his Plan. That one was deserved.
11.29.2005 1:15pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Fair enough. But I want my country's wartime commanders to value our citizens' lives (including soldiers) more highly than enemy citizens' lives (including civilians). And whether I want that or not, it will certainly happen. Obviously there's a moral calculus involved -- you don't kill hundreds of civilians to avoid risk of harm to a single soldier. But if Truman sent two hundred thousand American soldiers to die, but could have avoided it while still winning the war, he would be even more monstrous.


Quite right, Truman did what he did because having received the reports of accounts of American soldiers in the South Pacific in fighting Japanese hold-outs and the prospect of Russian involvement (given the animosity between the USSR and Japan), he believed that it was best way to end the war and prevent what most certainly would have been a far costlier and bloodier invasion.

Referring to him as an unrepentant mass murderer" or having perpetuated the "most vile single-act crimes" in history is the sign of being a moral an intellectual idiot.
11.29.2005 1:26pm
Justin (mail):
My simple response to Monk and David is that Arafat was not the only person pressing for peace in Israel ::chortle::, he was simply the most effective ::chortle::. Likewise, neighborhood watch guy, policeman joe, and the head of the united way of los angeles have not been nearly as effective or influential in what they have done. Although that Williams's "abilities" may be in part because of his past crimes (much like people such as Sharon (yes, I know, he hasn't received one yet...), Arafat, and Kissinger could not have risen to their levels without committing atrocities of their own, often significantly greater ones than Mr. Williams, that doesn't mean the award is given to these people "because" of their past. While it is in a sense done "despite" their past (for political reasons), the award is specifically narrowed to a particular instance (i.e., Carter's award speaks nothing, in an actual sense, of the Nobel's committee approval or disapproval of his efforts for peace as Governor of Georgia or President of the United States. Jody Williams's award speaks nothing of how she conducted herself as a private individual).

The award constitutes recognition of an event, process, or role, not of a person's entire life. Mother Theresa's award was not a recognition of her decision to devote herself to Christianity, or a rejection of athiesm.

As far as whether the award is unrecognizable because of the serious and significant differences between "war" and "gang war", I find such a difference interesting and possibly persuasive, though as mentioned, nobody has yet to bring it up afaik. Mandela received the prize, of course, despite South Africa never being in a war (MLK was a political leader equally rewarded for domestic reasons unrelated to war), but the question of whether the Nobel Prize must involve either amelioration or deflection of political disputes rather than violence generally could altogether disqualify Williams, if accepted. This, however, would beg the question of why the ILO won in 1967. It also makes me wonder if such a per se rule is reasonable or simply descriptive of the group of past winners.
11.29.2005 1:30pm
ytterbium (mail):
The unstated assumption is that but for the atomic bombing the US would have to wade ashore and conquer Japan, but they were out of oil and Japan cannot feed itself, so a blockade would have forced Japanese surrender.
11.29.2005 1:32pm
Justin (mail):
Referring to him as an unrepentant mass murderer" or having perpetuated the "most vile single-act crimes" in history is the sign of being a moral an intellectual idiot.

Not if one accepts the disputed premise (that I tend to disagree with but make no comment on, and do not believe absurd) that the only reason for bombing Nagasaki was a show of force against the Russians and to increase the bargaining power in terms of economic access by America to Japan.

Regardless, as I mentioned before, Truman never won the award. I believe the entire discussion of Truman is only germaine to the point that reasonable people can disagree that a person is "obviously unqualified" for the Prize, and that one reasonable person disagrees does not resolve the question for either the Nobel Committee or for more theoretical questions such as the one the board currently undertakes.
11.29.2005 1:35pm
Justin (mail):
Once again digressing into a tangential discussion on intellectual curiosity:

The unstated assumption is that but for the atomic bombing the US would have to wade ashore and conquer Japan, but they were out of oil and Japan cannot feed itself, so a blockade would have forced Japanese surrender.

Ah, but wouldn't that possibly cause as many or even more Japanese deaths as Hiroshima, and given the priority of the military, have those deaths even more focused on the innocent, poor, and weak? Particularly if the blockade was not 100% effective, providing enough food and oil for the war effort but certainly none for the populace?
11.29.2005 1:38pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The unstated assumption is that but for the atomic bombing the US would have to wade ashore and conquer Japan, but they were out of oil and Japan cannot feed itself, so a blockade would have forced Japanese surrender.


This of course assumes that (a) the blockade would have been successful enough to completely cripple the Japanese war machine, (b) that the deaths from starvation and bombing are fewer than the 200,000 killed or injured in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (c) that the Japanese don't try to break the blockade kamikaze-style, and (d) that the Russians don't go ahead and try to invade or saturate Japan with bombing.

Also you conveniently forgot to mention the fate of American and allied POW's being held captive on the Japanese mainland (one of the reasons for choosing Hiroshima is because there weren't any American POW's being held there). Anyone care to guess at their chances of surviving a prolonged blockade while we starve their people into submission?
11.29.2005 2:08pm
subpatre (mail):
Ytterbium - argue about the surrender and a protracted, bloody blockade if you want. The lives saved were civilians' lives after the surrender.
11.29.2005 2:14pm
Wonderduck (mail) (www):

But my questions about Truman's action are (1) why a need for dropping a second bomb, and (2) why couldn't one or both have been dropped in less populous places?


To answer #2 first, that was actually considered. As I'm at work (on lunch break), I don't have my various reference books ("DOWNFALL" by Richard Frank being the best of them) at hand, but if memory serves there were two sparse-populated locations considered: a mountain- or hill-top near a city, or out to sea, near Tokyo. In both cases, the Japanese military were going to be informed to "watch such-and-such location at this-and-that time." Both ideas were rejected as not having the desired effect on the Japanese military leaders. (as a side-note, having a nuke detonated off of Tokyo's bay would stand a good chance of killing huge amounts from fallout irradiated fish... what food that was getting into Tokyo at that time was most fish)

In answer to #1, the answer is self-evident: the Japanese didn't surrender after the Hiroshima. If they had, there wouldn't've been a need for Nagasaki. However, in many ways the nuking of Hiroshima was 'just another bombing run' to the Japanese at this time. More people were killed in the firebombing (and resulting firestorm) of Tokyo, after all.

The military was actually quite prepared to continue the fight even AFTER Nagasaki. It was the twin nuclear blows that (allegedly) convinced the Emperor to actually RULE rather than just reign for once.

Be glad he did, too. There were plans for the use of nukes in a tactical role during Operation Olympic...

On a "morality" note, I ask you this, MDJD2B: is it somehow better to starve millions of Japanese to death via total blockade and complete ruination of the transportation network (which was the third option under consideration, and the one that was generally more popular than invasion), or is 'only' 100,000 dead someone worse because it involved atoms?
11.29.2005 2:14pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
More people were killed in the firebombing (and resulting firestorm) of Tokyo, after all.

or is 'only' 100,000 dead someone worse because it involved atoms?


These are two important, and related, points. I really don't understand the mindset of those who adhere to a categorical, it-will-always-be-immoral view of nuclear warfare, but just kinda shrug at the Great Tokyo Air Raids that occurred in March. Are the atom bombs worse because they required less effort? They certainly weren't cheaper. Someone please 'splain.
11.29.2005 2:18pm
Justin (mail):
Monk, though I agree with you at least in part, never forget that lawyers are always concerned with precedences and slippery slopes. What makes 100,000 dead in Tokyo slightly less "bad" than 100,000 dead in Hiroshima is that the 100,000 dead in Hiroshima opened up a new can of worms, whereas Tokyo was (at the time) standard operating procedure (and since has been disapproved of by the global politics, thanks to both Tokyo and Dresden, which has "ended" the precedent).
11.29.2005 2:26pm
Wonderduck (mail) (www):

This of course assumes that (a) the blockade would have been successful enough to completely cripple the Japanese war machine, (b) that the deaths from starvation and bombing are fewer than the 200,000 killed or injured in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (c) that the Japanese don't try to break the blockade kamikaze-style, and (d) that the Russians don't go ahead and try to invade or saturate Japan with bombing.


Point by point:
A) By the time in question, the Japanese war machine was already crippled, save for the Kwangtung Army in China, which subsisted on food they took from the Chinese countryside, and the garrison at Rabaul. Neither of these were direct threats to Allied power at this time.

B) Fewer than 200,000? Most of the civilian population in 1945 was (barely) surviving on ~500 calories/day (if my memory serves), mostly rice. 10 million deaths from famine (roughly 10% of the population of Japan at the time) wouldn't be out of the question.

C) The main reason that the kamikaze threat was feared during the proposed Operation Olympic was that the (mostly untrained) pilots of them wouldn't have to fly very far to hit their targets, and would almost always remain in sight of land. Considering the huge amounts of carriers that were coming off the assembly lines, and the effectiveness of the US submarine fleet, the blockade could have been positioned 300 miles (or more) off the coast of Japan and still strangled the country into submission... at a much reduced risk of kamikaze. They'd be a threat, but once that 'bullet was shot,' so to speak, there'd be nothing left to fight with effectively.

D) The Soviet Army had already invaded. They had kicked the Kwangtung Army in the teeth, and were steadily pushing them back out of China... and they were ready to invade Hokkaido. Imagine, if you will, a Cold War with FOUR Berlins... E&W Berlin, and North and South Tokyo. If the war hadn't've ended, there's an excellent chance, I believe that such a thing would have occurred.
11.29.2005 2:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The award constitutes recognition of an event, process, or role, not of a person's entire life. Mother Theresa's award was not a recognition of her decision to devote herself to Christianity, or a rejection of athiesm.
I agree that the award constitutes recognition of an event, process or role, rather than a person's entire life. That's exactly my point. That's why the nomination of Williams is inappropriate. He is not being nominated for a specific event, process, or role, but for his "entire life." It's the fact that he used to murder and now he stopped -- not the fact that he may work against gangs now -- that motivated people to nominate him.

(Well, he's actually being nominated to make a statement about the death penalty -- I can't imagine anybody is naive enough to think he'd be nominated if he were merely serving life without parole.)

That separates him from Arafat (a joke as a choice, of course, but only because some people were gullible enough to believe he was sincere), who wasn't honored for having reformed, but for (purportedly) trying to make peace. A secretary of state with a pristine background would have received the same award Kissinger did for ending Vietnam. But an anti-gang activist with a pristine background would not have received Williams' nomination.
11.29.2005 2:40pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):

and they were ready to invade Hokkaido

Not to mention the Soviet occupation of the Northern Territories (which continues today)
11.29.2005 2:46pm
Anon. 1863:
I wonder if anyone has tried to compile a database of "known" Nobel nominees since 1861 -- nominations often generate press releases and public announcements, so while such a list would not be complete, it might still be a useful complement to Dave's original post.
11.29.2005 2:56pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think it is pretty questionable for Kopel to include Neville Chamberlain. First, I think sometimes conservatives wish the Nobel Peace Prize were something it isn't-- witness, for instance, people proposing George W. Bush for the award in the past few years. The award is for peace. Pursuing war because one thinks it is a superior policy may well be justified in a given situation, but it doesn't qualify you for a peace prize.

Specifically, Chamberlain negotiated 2 important peace agreements, as Kopel mentions. Munich turned out not to hold, and many condemn it as "appeasing" Hitler, but, again, the prize is earned for pursuing peace, not war. That's why Chamberlain was nominated-- those, such as Churchill, who were agitating for war against Germany were not pursuing peace.

One other thing. Chamberlain is roundly condemned for Munich, but this is a very glib talking point. During the period in which the Munich peace held, Chamberlain ramped up Britain's military to fight the Germans and cultivated an embryonic alliance with FDR. In contrast, had Chamberlain gone to war immediately instead of "appeasing" Hitler, Britain would have lost. The Munich agreement bought the country valuable time.

I think a lot of ideologues like to use Chamberlain and Munich to condemn any policy other than all-out war. But sometimes all-out war is a really dumb thing to pursue, and "appeasement" can certainly make sense in the meanwhile.
11.29.2005 3:22pm
Justin (mail):
"He is not being nominated for a specific event, process, or role, but for his "entire life." It's the fact that he used to murder and now he stopped -- not the fact that he may work against gangs now -- that motivated people to nominate him."

I disagree. And I've yet to see evidence that makes your position plausible, much less likely. If I am missing that evidence, feel free to provide as such. However, if all you are doing is making an inference as to why he was nominated, it seems silly on its face.

Almost by definition and the situation of confinement, almost every death penalty conviction leads to the convicted "stopping" the crime he convicted, and if all that was wanted was a statement against the death penalty, then someone else whose actually repented and turned his life over to Christ (and there are many of them) seem like more obvious candidates. What seperates Williams from all other gang-related death penalty convicts is the work he's done to STOP crime, not that he himself has stopped convicting them. I agree that work should be relative to other nominees and not to "the old Williams", but I disagree that one would readily agree that, for instance, Williams had simply renounced his gang membership (with no evidence of him committing any crime), and with equal credibility accomplished the same levels of success and influence, he would be undeserving of a nomination.
11.29.2005 3:23pm
Larry Faria (mail):
Reading the list didn't induce me to try to add to it or debate the (de)merits of the nominees. The first issue that popped in my head was what today's judges might have done with the nominations.
11.29.2005 3:32pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
Re: Munich

The problem with "appeasement" in this case was that it was an agreement between powers to dismember a country that wasn't even a party to the negotiations. That's what still troubles a lot of people (esp. Czechs).

I don't think I've ever seen it argued that Chamberlain entered into the agreement in order to buy time for what he saw as an inevitable war (which seems to be what you're implying). The standard view is that Chamberlain became disillusioned with Hitler only after he occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Even if he had wanted to buy time, it would have been a stupid maneuver. In the fall of 1938, Britain and France together had troop and equipment advantages over Germany that Hitler was able to extinguish over the following year. That may not have been obvious at the time, but if you're arguing that Chamberlain had the gift of prophesy, he should have returned it.

And then there were the unintended consequences -- like Stalin freaking out about how Britain and France treated allies and choosing instead to ally with Hitler.

On balance, Chamberlain doesn't come out looking so great (or smart, for that matter).
11.29.2005 4:50pm
eddie (mail):
I still wonder what a discussion of the propriety of various nominees for a foreign award has to do with the law or more specifically the criminal law in the US.

This is worse than discussing how many angels are on the head of a pin. At least angel arguers realize that the discussion is for its own sake and serves no practical purpose.

I sense moral outrage at the political nature of nominations. But politics and law are bad bedfellows. And let's all take a breath and be honest with each other: this is not a debate with two sides, the stronger argument of which will convince anyone of anything. There are those who think convicted felons like Tookie should simply fade away and that the public (including meddling foreignors) should have the decency to allow such offal to be disposed of efficiently. [And of course there are those who think no one should be executed.]

But all of this legalistic mumbo jumbo and historical relativism is all so much wind purporting to be about something important.
11.29.2005 5:13pm
subpatre (mail):
"But politics and law are bad bedfellows."
It may be true, but they're the only bedfellows.

There's no other profession or field of study that voluntarily associates with either of those two.
11.29.2005 5:49pm
Justin (mail):
I sense moral outrage at the political nature of nominations. But politics and law are bad bedfellows. And let's all take a breath and be honest with each other: this is not a debate with two sides, the stronger argument of which will convince anyone of anything. There are those who think convicted felons like Tookie should simply fade away and that the public (including meddling foreignors) should have the decency to allow such offal to be disposed of efficiently. [And of course there are those who think no one should be executed.]

I do not think this accurately sums up all the positions, and despite your lack of respect, submit with respect the possibility (indeed the actuality) of those who believe clemency is a part of the system. Though it is depressing that nobody on the right (including self professed capital punishment pro lifers from what I can tell) applies this to Williams, there are many liberals who are comfortable with the death penalty but do not believe it should be applied to Williams.

Your argument to the contrary is both factually untrue and implies a greater lie, which is that one has to be for the death of all "convicted felons" or none at all. Even being charitable to the text of your statement(and limiting it to the usual crimes for which one may receive the death penalty), the first is a position that only those who have no real interest in public policy (or a society of rights) would consider.

But, being against the death penalty, I'm fine with that dichotomy. I wholeheartedly endorse any legislation by Congress that would tie all crime-fighting funding to states who pass a law which requires all people convicted of a death penalty offense to receive the death penalty (and, in the absence of such a law, or such a law being invalid, to not have a death penalty, as your dichotomy goes).
11.29.2005 6:46pm
MDJD2B (mail):
On a "morality" note, I ask you this, MDJD2B: is it somehow better to starve millions of Japanese to death via total blockade and complete ruination of the transportation network (which was the third option under consideration, and the one that was generally more popular than invasion), or is 'only' 100,000 dead someone worse because it involved atoms?

I think that, in all probablilty, the use on nuclear weapons was more sparing of both non-combatants and of American combatants than alternative courses for pursuing the war. If the nuclear weapons were dropped with a reasonable strategy of bringing Japan to surrender withminimal loss of live, including consideration of alternative targets, then their use was a moral choice under the circumstances.
11.29.2005 7:45pm
Craig Oren (mail):
In 1911, the University of Californa had only one campus: the one in Berkeley. (The "southern division" that later became UCLA didn't exist yet.) Formally, there was only one President: the President of the University of California. This continues to be the case; the individual campuses are ruled by Chancellors.

I believe the then-President was Benjamin Ide Wheeler, who rode the campus on horseback. The campus library's ceiling celebrated German scientists and poets. The ceiling was covered over in 1917 during the wartime hysteria, and it had not yet been restored when I studied at Berkeley in the 1960s and 1970s.
11.29.2005 9:34pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Anon. 1863 wrote:

I wonder if anyone has tried to compile a database of "known" Nobel nominees since 1861 -- nominations often generate press releases and public announcements, so while such a list would not be complete, it might still be a useful complement to Dave's original post.

The Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901. That's why Dave's original post didn't go back any further.
11.29.2005 10:30pm
Bleepless (mail):
Letting Tokyo know the time and place of a demonstration drop merely would have made things easy for Japanese air defense.
11.29.2005 10:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Monk:

The British war machine was in shambles at the time of Munich, and France wasn't any more equipped to fight the Germans then than they were when they actually fought them.

You are right about carving up a country, though bear in mind that happened all the time in the first 1/2 of the 20th Century-- it was an era when great powers drew the maps.

There's no way Britain could have defeated the Germans at the time of Munich. They couldn't even defeat them later-- only with American AND Soviet help were they able to do it. The idea that a clearly inferior army from a waning power could defeat the greatest war machine ever assembled up to that point is historically myopic. But then, as I said, the point of condemning Chamberlain is really to condemn any effort at peace with bad actors, and to make war the favored policy in all such situations. Chamberlain took the only option available at the time.

As for the Soviets, they were going to side with the Germans anyway. Stalin was simply betting on the horse that he thought would win. It was only after the Germans violated the pact that he was forced to sign on with the Allies.
11.29.2005 11:14pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Looking at 1948:

Morgan was nominated for his efforts to disarm Germany 1919-1923, and for his plans for disarmament after the World War II.


Uh, what kind of idiot regards a failed disarmament scheme as prizeworthy???

I see that Molotov got some nominations that year. No search results for Ribbentrop, though. Tough luck, dude.
11.30.2005 3:02am
eddie (mail):
I really did not mean to disrepect anyone. If we are to have a debate on the actual matters at hand, e.g. the death penalty, retributive justice, clemency, etc., then I am all for it.

But discussing the relative evilness of prior nominees for the Nobel Prize is not very substantive to me. It just provides an outlet to bash others.

Of course awards are political. But discussing whether such an award should or should not have an effect on any criminal deliberations is fruitless. Tell it to the judge or the governor or the president.

Justin, I think you need to get a little thicker skin. I don't really think I was espousing an argument regarding the non-issue actually being discussed in this thread. My plain words bespoke my disdain for the death penalty. I was merely expressing a negative opinion about the lather that seemed to be accruing in connection with an argument about matters that ultimately cannot be decided (i.e. who was less deserving of an awared or which award was more blatantly political than others) and ultimately are peripheral and irrelevant to important matters (e.g. capital punishment and grounds for clemency).
11.30.2005 10:55am