Yesterday, Serrena Iyer addressed a letter to Sweden in the News (“What did Obama do?” Oct. 13). While I am sure my native country is delighted to receive such an eloquent letter, I cannot help but wonder whether Iyer intended to send it to Norway. A committee of the Norwegian parliament selects the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
When Alfred Nobel died in 1896, Sweden and Norway were joined under one king but kept separate parliaments. Nobel gave his Peace Prize to the Norwegian parliament to taunt Swedish nationalists (of which the Swedish parliament was full at the time). Since 1905, when the union split, the Peace Prize has been administered entirely by Norway.
So on December 10 (the day of Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896), our own Thomas Steitz will pick up his Nobel Prize in Chemistry from the hands of King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, Sweden, while Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland will hand the Peace Prize to President Barack Obama in Norway. Sweden deserves neither praise nor criticism for Obama’s Peace Prize.
The writer is a professor of history.