The Nobel committee has been justifying its bold decision to award the 2009 peace prize to Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was a lot of scepticism about giving the prize to a man who has long harboured nuclear ambitions and who has done more than any former Iranian leader to further the country's nuclear capabilities. But the committee claims that its decision was based on sound reasoning.
First, this is the inaugural award ceremony for the new chair of committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, and it is thought that he wanted to 'kick off with a bang'. Clearly it was not that inspired, at his first ceremony, to award the prize to someone with a track record - as the committee did with former laureates Jimmy Carter and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Much better to be bold and enterprising, even controversial. Now the world knows, the man on everyones lips is Thorbjorn Jagland.
Second, the committee was aware of its duty to tell the world what to do and how to go about doing it. "When you are awarding the most prestigious prize that the world has ever known, it is always wise to do so in a way that encourages the others, as it were. We quite literally have world statesmen banging on our door every day, on their hands and knees, begging to be awarded the prize. But we know that we, on the committee, are the custodians of world peace. We know that we can change the world if we want to. This prize is precious. And we must hand it to someone who will value it, cherish it, be affected by it. Receiving the prize should be a life changing event. And now that we have awarded it to President Ahmadinejad, we will be able to shape Iranian foreign policy for years to come. And that is of course a good thing. You see, to a great extent our job is about perception and the shaping of perception."
In a separate development there are plans to award a posthumous peace prize to Genghis Khan, who did so much to influence world history. "By our actions we hope that his fame, fortune and power will henceforth only be associated with the good, more peaceful aspects of his life and that people will stop commemorating the less salubrious side that included widescale slaughter and destruction. And just to reiterate, our job is about perception and the shaping of perception."
Warlords, take note.