The Nobel Peace Prize awarded 50 years in the past to then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho stays one of the vital controversial Nobels ever. One of many laureates declined the prize, the opposite did not dare journey to Oslo to gather it and two of the 5 committee members stop in an uproar.
“A complete fiasco,” within the phrases of Norwegian Nobel historian Asle Sveen.
“It is the worst prize in all the historical past of the Nobel Peace Prize,” he instructed AFP.
The announcement despatched shockwaves all over the world on October 16, 1973: the Norwegian Nobel Committee had awarded the prize to Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, North Vietnam’s chief peace negotiator, “for collectively having negotiated a ceasefire in Vietnam in 1973”.
Earlier that yr, on January 27, the pair had signed the Paris Peace Accords calling for an armistice in Vietnam.
“It wasn’t a peace settlement however a truce that quickly began to crack,” Sveen mentioned.
Maybe above all, it was a possibility for America to withdraw its troops from the quagmire in Vietnam, amid vehement anti-war sentiment at residence.
The prize sparked immediate controversy.
Two disgruntled members of the Nobel committee resigned, a primary within the prize’s historical past.
In the US, the New York Occasions printed an editorial in regards to the “Nobel Conflict Prize”, whereas Harvard College professors wrote to the Norwegian parliament criticising a alternative that was “greater than an individual with a traditional sense of justice can take”.
American satirical singer Tom Lehrer mentioned that with the prize, “political satire grew to become out of date”.
Kissinger, now 100, was a specific goal of criticism, accused of inflicting the conflict to spill over into neighbouring Cambodia and ordering large bombings of Hanoi to ramp up the strain on the negotiating desk.
He was additionally underneath fireplace for having backed Augusto Pinochet’s coup in Chile towards democratically elected President Salvador Allende.
Much less well-known, Le Duc Tho was additionally a hardliner who was already laying the groundwork for the invasion of South Vietnam two years later, in 1975.
He’s to at the present time the one individual to say no the Nobel Peace Prize.
“When the Paris Settlement on Vietnam is revered, weapons are silenced and peace is actually restored in South Vietnam, I’ll think about the acceptance of this prize,” he wrote in a telegram to the Peace Prize committee.
In the meantime, fearing he could be met by indignant protests, Kissinger insisted he needed to attend a NATO assembly and was unable to select up the prize in Oslo.
After the autumn of Saigon in 1975, he tried to ship his prize again to the committee, which refused it.
In keeping with the present head of the Nobel Institute Olav Njolstad, the committee’s archived deliberations, just lately declassified after 50 years, recommend it hoped the prize would supply the impetus for an enduring peace.
Moreover, that peace in Vietnam would ease East-West tensions in the remainder of the world and assist thaw the Chilly Conflict.
However, Njolstad admits, “I are likely to assume it was a nasty determination. Often, it is not a good suggestion to offer prizes to individuals who have been in control of conflict.”
(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)