Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee takes a sideswipe at President Bush's Iraq policy as it rewards Jimmy Carter for his peacemaking efforts. [BBC News | Front Page]
Well-deserved, I think. Not remembered as the most effective President while in office, reputation forever tarnished for agonizing over the Iran hostage issue and not taking action, but in "retirement". has devoted himself to good causes, and especially peace. Good guy, just reward.
What exactly it has to do with the Bush Iraq policy, I am at a loss to understand. No marks to the Nobel committee or to the BBC for making that connection.
Here is the New York Times piece on the same subject, also questioning the heavy-handed and inappropriate linkage between Carter and Bush.
Later: I see the Iraq linkage is causing dissension among the Nobel committee.
Later still: most weblog comment has been very critical of this decision, for one reason or another. I stand by my opinion.
Even later (Sunday): The Sunday Telegraph leading article acerbicly puts this award into context.
On a personal note, I remember, back in September of 1978 (a very fraught time in the world), the final Camp David negotiations brokered by President Carter were taking place, endlessly, painstakingly, on the brink all the time, but in hindsight successful (probably Carter's greatest achievement, a peace which endures still, despite severe provocation).
I was at an IBM sales seminar (2 weeks) at the vast IBM International Education Centre (IEC) at La Hulpe, in the forest south of Brussels, (quite an experience in itself), attended by several IBM sales reps from both Egypt and Israel (altogether 23 countries represented, if I remember correctly). One of the guys was celebrating a birthday (a Cypriot), about 20 of us were crowded into one of the monks' cells which passed for bedroom/study, lots of illegally-imported alcohol going down, and a mini-Camp David summit in animated progress among the Israeli and Egyptian delegates. Fascinating.
Unfortunately, the number of smokers in the room exceeded the capacity of the smoke sensors (this was 1978, remember, no stigma attached to smoking - but this was also the IBM of 1978, and alcohol on IBM premises was a no-no); the fire alarms sounded, and suddenly the little room was occupied by an equal number of tough Belgian security guards/fire marshalls with no sense of humour, or of history, and the party and negotiations came to a swift conclusion. Thankfully, the course manager, Ron Pye was his name, from IBM UK, did a heroic job of smoothing things over the following morning, and nothing further came of it, except that Israel and Egypt made peace that day.
Sadly, we also had 3 Iranian IBMers on the course, who were continually distracted as the Shah's regime was falling to pieces back home, concerned about their families, jobs and futures; for good reason - there has not been an IBM Iran for the last 23 years. I've often wondered what became of them - there was one very chic lady, I can't imagine her in a chador. No email in those days, except for very technical guys who could hack VM/CMS to do very primitive messaging, but this was a sales group, so we haven't kept in touch, as a similar group might do these days.
Also during the same eventful two weeks, the first Pope John Paul was elected, and almost immediately passed away, and the conclave which elected John Paul II took place. He's still there too, although I guess it won't be long before we're all watching for white smoke from the chimney above the Vatican - this time live on CNN with Christiane Amanpour reporting. In those days we followed it in the daily papers.
On the business side, we got the first tantalising hints about the IBM PC (a couple of the class and faculty owned TRS 80's or Apple II's), and we spent a couple of days working through a forecasting exercise conducted by the IBM user group SHARE: sketching out future IT developments between 1974 and 2000. Pretty accurate all round (Year 2000 problem discussed for the first time - if only people had fixed it then, but the consensus was that those systems would have been replaced by 2000); most of the class thought it was way too extreme, but in hindsight, the forecast was conservative.
Everyone knew about Moore's Law, of course, although some were sceptical about how long it would continue, but in a mainframe-centric world, before the PC, before Ethernet, while the Arpanet was still very immature and restricted to research/government; IBM was full-bore developing SNA for large customers; DEC, Data General and HP were just beginning to flex their mini-computing muscles; IBM still had to introduce the 4300, System 34/36/38, 8100 DDP system and the 3080 Series mainframes (all within the following 12 months): what did we or anyone else know about the future then?
I still have that SHARE 1974-2000 document, and re-read it while packing up our house in Cape Town last year - actually a good forecast (maybe the real test of a good forecast is that people have difficulty believing it).
On the social side, we had a spontaneous evening outing, all the way to Amsterdam - eight of us piling into the cars of two Dutch colleagues, who drove us across two countries to show us their favourite Sherry Bodega off the Leydse Plein (that IBM anti-alcohol policy having its predictable effect again). We had a fantastic time, met some amazing Amsterdam women, arriving back at La Hulpe bleary-eyed at 6.30am to try and sober up for the days' classes.
Another Saturday evening, one of the La Hulpe secretaries obligingly arranged about half a dozen blind dates selected from English nurses or EEC staff in Brussels, and we had a fabulous evening in the then-happening disco "Roosevelt 8" (that was also the address), dancing frantically to the BeeGee's, Donna Summer and Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" (Her name was Lola, she was a dancer etc). Hey, this was 1978, remember?
All of those memories triggered by Jimmy Carter getting the Nobel Peace Prize - but why not? Those were an incredibly busy few weeks, in the Autumn forests of southern Belgium, at a fulcrum point in the political and technical history of the last quarter century.