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Give Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky the Nobel Peace Prize

Ukraine's President Zelensky. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Why Zelensky Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize: It is almost that season again. In just two weeks, the Norwegian Nobel Institute will announce the recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Historically, the Nobel Peace Prize differs from other Nobel prizes. While the Swedish Academy and Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences bestow prizes for Literature, Physics, Chemistry, and Economics base their awards on a lifetime of achievement, the Norwegian politicians and academics who awarding its prize are often more aspirational.

This can lead to some embarrassing failures. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg won the 1929 prize for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a gross naiveté given the outbreak of World War II just a decade later. Eighty years later, the Nobel Committee awarded President Barack Obama the prize for his inspirational rhetoric. Had they waited to judge his actions, his decisions pouring fuel on the fire of conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq would have been disqualifying. In 1991, the committee bestowed the award on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who, once in power, would bless a campaign of genocide against minority Rohingya. As embarrassing as that award was, the Nobel Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appear worse. Emboldened by international accolades and believing they immunized him from criticism, Abiy launched a campaign to eliminate political adversaries that culminated in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Sometimes, the five-member Norwegian committee picking the prizewinner gets it right. The late Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s 1986 prize was well deserved; he remains a light unto the nations, and his legacy continues through the work of his son Elisha. Nelson Mandela, who shared the 1993 prize with South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk also deserved the honor. So too did schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 prize winner, whose stoicism in the face of threats delegitimized the Taliban and continues to inspire a generation of schoolgirls against those in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere who would deny them education.

There are many deserving candidates today whose award could advance freedom and delegitimize dictatorship. Imprisoned Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala is one such man. Should the five committee members honor him, it would not only help safeguard a man who has put his life and fortune on the line for the freedom and human rights of Turks, Kurds, and Armenians, but it would also send a signal to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that blackmail and repression will never normalize his dictatorship.

Volodymyr Zelensky: The Case for the Nobel Peace Prize

Over the past year, however, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has done more to demonstrate the inutility of aggression and defend the post-World War II liberal order than perhaps any other living official. Russian President Vladimir Putin believed he could eliminate not only a country but also a nation by force. What happens in Ukraine does not stay in Ukraine. Dictators across the globe, from Erdogan to China’s Xi Jinping watched Putin to see if his gambit would work. Had he been successful, it would be a green light for aggression. By rallying Ukrainians and, seemingly against all odds, delivering a searing rebuke to Putin, Zelensky has done more to enable peace than most Nobel Peace Prize laureates have done in their careers.

It may seem ironic to award a prize to someone who commands a fighting force, but there is ample precedent: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first female president and winner of the 2011 prize, supported war criminal Charles Taylor earlier in her career. Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, a 1994 recipient, never abandoned terrorism and refused peace agreements reached by his own appointed negotiators. De Klerk was head of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

Zelensky, however, bears none of that baggage. He did not seek the fight, but merely met the challenge when it was imposed upon him and at a time when the world—even the White House—abandoned him.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Should the Norwegian Nobel Committee have the boldness to award the 2022 prize to Zelensky, they might enable the most consequential prize in the 121-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize. What better way to counter Russian propaganda about Ukraine’s true character and signal to the Russian population trapped in their own media bubble or blinded by nationalism how illegitimate Putin’s cause.

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).

Written By

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).



  1. Ron Lawrence

    September 23, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Why would you suggest awarding a prize to someone that just suggested that the US should use a nuclear weapon against Russia!?

  2. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    September 23, 2022 at 11:36 am

    I absolutely agree with Ron Lawrence.

  3. GhostTomahawk

    September 23, 2022 at 11:37 am


    Give me the Nobel Peace Prize. This war would’ve never happened.

    The exit from Afghanistan wouldn’t have been a humanitarian crisis and a stain on American history.

    This article is comedy. Great job Zelensky. You slaughtered your own people. Negated your population for generations and subjugated your nation to the corrupt kleptocrats forever.


  4. KR

    September 23, 2022 at 11:41 am

    Yeah I don’t know Michael, this seems like a stretch.

    He is responsible for silencing speech in his country (sometimes violently) that didn’t align with his vision, and the Neo-Nazi regiment that was let loose on Ukrainians sympathetic to Russia is very alarming. The latter was done on his watch.

    Also he is a lousy singer. 😁

  5. Jann

    September 23, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Because “Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).”

  6. TG

    September 23, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    It seems likely that, back in February 2022, if Zelensky had simply told Putin “OK we won’t join NATO and we’ll stay neutral now go away” that all of this could have been avoided. Would that have been so terrible?

    OK maybe Putin was lying – maybe he would have invaded anyhow – but surely worth a try? Ask the relatives of all those Ukrainians who have died and will continue to die, and the mangled survivors. I’m sure they would have been happy to give up Ukrainian ‘pride’ and just continued on with their lives.

    One remembers also that the current Ukrainian government was installed by a military coup and is not democratic. One thinks that Zelensky’s agenda is dictated by the Western elites and is simply to bleed Russia no matter how many Ukrainians die or how devastated Ukraine is.

    But when one considers the record of so many other Nobel Peace Prize winners, like Barack Obama, absolutely Zelensky deserves this prize.

  7. Aerozppln

    September 23, 2022 at 12:40 pm


  8. 403Forbidden

    September 23, 2022 at 12:51 pm

    Zelenskiyy is the puppet of NATO, he serves his masters named biden and stoltenberg and has been at the forefront of russophobia in europe.

    Giving him the prize would be like giving diamonds to the top chimpanzee of a chimp troop in a wild jungle.

    It would make more sense to award it to biden who has declared half of his country as a threat to the soul of america, a nation that has pioneered the concept of forever wars & continuous regime change.

  9. Arash P

    September 23, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Rubin’s chicken brain at work again!

    I don’t think he understands what “peace” means.

  10. Bill

    September 23, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Lunatics are out in force today.

    Zelensky has proven to be a great leader during very difficult times. He stayed and provided the leadership for his country in spite of Putin’s desire to kill him. He has bigger cajones than Vlad ever had. Putin would have cut and run like his wimpy army.

  11. Yrral

    September 23, 2022 at 2:47 pm

    Only he deserves is the hell,he has brought Ukraine,this is not all here

  12. cobo

    September 23, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    Ivan’s bunnies are all over this. Good job, Dr. Rubin.

  13. Jolene Texas

    September 23, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    How many bio labs were found in Ukraine and wasn’t Hunter Biden attached to Metabiota, a U.S. Department of Defense contractor specializing in research on pandemic-causing diseases? Putin wasn’t after the whole of Ukraine, but he’s after the Neo Nazi’s that have taken over parts of Ukraine and the corrupt Cabal that’s been involved since 2014 when Obama involved us in a coup to overthrow the President at that time. Zelensky is just another Cabala puppet, same as Joe Biden.

  14. Tamerlane

    September 23, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    Agree w Lawrence: whaaaaaaaat? Imbecility.

  15. Mr Galt

    September 23, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    Yeah, let’s give the Nobel to a guy that wants the US to initiate a nuclear holocaust. Bet you thought giving one to Obama was genius as well?

  16. Tamerlane

    September 23, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Yikes, the Ukrainian bots are alive in the comment section, trying to drag our rightfully intervention averse country into a major war on their (non-ally) behalf.

    No thanks.

  17. Tamerlane

    September 23, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Exactly Jann, AEI was behind our completely foreseeable utter disaster in Iraq. They’ve never met a military intervention they didn’t have a hardon for. And here I thought the anti-American national interest neoconservatives were all ruined by their record of past imbecility.

  18. TheDon

    September 23, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    I think Putin should get the nobel prize for his novel approach of reducing the Russian military threat around the world.

  19. Longo

    September 24, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Ignoring all the Sovok bots, the answer is a resounding yes, Slava Ukraini!

  20. Omega 13

    September 24, 2022 at 9:59 am

    Why not? Obama got one for doing absolutely nothing. That shows what the “prize” is worth.

  21. Szurovcev Eduárd

    September 24, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    Zelensky deserves only prison

  22. Chris Moore

    September 24, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    Sometimes not only the best but only way to promote peace is to oppose tyrants in war. Think Hitler versus churchill. Zelensky has earned the right to that award more than most other recent laureates.

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