In the long, confounding history of inappropriate or unwarranted awards and prizes, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger being named the joint winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize has to rank at the top of any such list.
Clearly, it ranks higher than Roberto Benigni beating out Ian McKellen for the Best Actor Oscar, in 1998, and way higher than the Chevrolet Vega being named Motor Trend magazine’s 1971 “Car of the Year.”
Kissinger’s fellow co-winner in 1973 was the Vietnamese revolutionary and politician Le Duc Tho. So the almost saintly Mahatma Gandhi gets nominated for the Peace Prize five times but never wins? And yet the Teutonic Supercock wins it on his very first try? Irony doesn’t come in any more bizarre a package.
The Nobel Committee, presumably to prove that, God forbid, they weren’t “taking sides,” chose to honor both men simultaneously. They honored the man who (along with his accomplice, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara) was responsible for deliberately bombing and killing countless civilians, and the man representing the country whose civilians were being bombed and killed.
Although it was never adequately explained, this particular Peace Prize had to be the product of some twisted international calculus—some preposterous tit for tat—where a powerful, highly mechanized country that was committing the murders, and the largely peasant country whose women and children were being murdered, were elevated to equal…