The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, October 07, 2004  

Nobel Peace Prize to be Announced

Tomorrow morning, Friday, October 8, no earlier than 11:00 a.m. local time, the Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce in Oslo the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

I can't recall a year in which I have heard less speculation about the contenders for the Peace Prize nor prognostications, wise or insipid, about the likely winner. The entire event almost escaped my attention until I recalled that two years ago, on October 11, 2002, The Rittenhouse Review was, if I might pat myself on the back, the first American print or online media outlet, traditional or otherwise, to report that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had won the honor.

I figured the best place for a last-minute check on the race, if one could call it that, for the Nobel Peace Prize was with London bookies. If my source, Centrebet, is as reliable as any of its competitors, the list of leading and lagging contenders runs right to left, up and down, sideways, in circles, and every which way.

Below is a list of some of the prevailing odds, at last check, for some of the contenders on which Centrebet is taking bets. (Please note that by reducing the list below from Centrebet's more comprehensive collection I in no way intend to slight any particular contender.):

Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency: 3.00; Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program: 4.50; Mordechai Vanunu: 8.00; Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign: 9.00; Hans Blix: 11.00; Sergei Kovalyev: 13.00; Vaclav Havel: 15.00; Pope John Paul II: 17.00; Jiang Yanyong: 21.00; George W. Bush: 26.00; Bono: 34.00; Hamid Karzai: 34.00; Tiananmen Mothers Campaign: 34.00; Tony Blair: 51.00; the European Union: 67.00; the International Solidarity Movement: 67.00; The Salvation Army: 67.00; Jacques Chirac: 101.00; the Community of Sant'Egidio: 101.00; John Howard: 101.00; Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: 101.00; Mothers in Black: 101.00; Gerhard Schroeder: 101.00; Women in Black: 101.00; Gen. Pervez Musharraf: 201.00; George Ryan: 201.00; Fidel Castro: 501.00; Slobodan Milosevic: 501.00; and Willie Nelson: 501.00.

(One may also place a bet on "any other," meaning, I assume, any person or organization not listed on the board. That bet is running at 2.50 to 1.)

What to make of this bizarre list?

Bush, Blair, and Howard? Um, shouldn't there be at least some semblance of peace for anyone, let along the Nobel committee, to take nominations seriously? Ditto Karzai and Musharraf. The Salvation Army? The odds on this one are far too low. The "Army" is too openly and blatantly anti-gay to win the prize. Milosevic? That's a joke, right? And Nelson? Am I missing something here?

I'll stick my neck out here and put my wager on Pope John Paul II. ("Wager" being a figurative term as I am morally opposed to gambling and vehemently opposed to government-sponsored and -owned gambling of any kind.) Like Havel, John Paul II is a perennial candidate, one passed over many times already. But keep in mind, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded only to living persons, and while it's crude to so observe, time is clearly running out.

George Ryan, though, is my sentimental favorite. Who's that? Ryan is the former Illinois governor who in January 2000 bravely declared a moratorium on executions in that state and established a commission to review the administration of capital punishment, these actions based, at least in part, on the discovery that Illinois in the past had executed at least 13 innocent convicts.

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