10/15/2012 12:24 EDT | Updated 12/14/2012 05:12 EST

The EU Won the Nobel Peace Prize, Fair and Square


Tim Knight writes the regular media column, Watching the Watchdog, for HuffPost Canada.

"The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe."

Nobel Peace Prize Committee, 2012

It's 1941.

World War ll has raged for three years.

A very small boy lives with his mother in London while his father fights in the war against the Japanese far away in Burma.

The very small boy, now grownup, still remembers the night after night after night when the air raid sirens wail.

And he still hears the high-pitched scream of German bombs falling out of the sky.

He remembers the nights when he's pulled out of bed and hurried down to the air raid shelter which is a hole in the ground in the back garden.

And the next morning, when he and the other children play in the rubble of a house on their street now bombed to a smoking skeleton. A house where he played with his best friends. No more.

A couple of years later, he remembers being evacuated to the countryside where he's billeted with strangers in places supposed to be safe from German bombs.

And walking hand-in-hand in a line with other children back to their billet one Sunday afternoon after church while the flying bomb -- nicknamed the Doodlebug -- drones overhead. The children know it's only dangerous when the Doodlebug's engine runs out of fuel, its engine stops, and it drops to earth.

The engine stops.

The bomb destroys the church where, only minutes before, the children sing hymns.

The once-small boy survives to live in Canada.

But millions of other children die because the leaders of Europe can't get along.


World War ll was by far the deadliest conflict in all human history. It killed more than 60-milllion people -- roughly double the entire population of Canada today.

Canada itself contributed one million troops to the Allied side. Some 47,000 were killed -- that's roughly a full house at the Rogers Centre stadium in Toronto. In your mind's eye, stand in the middle of the stadium, turn full circle and as you do it, see all those Canadians sitting in the stands. See them dead.

All because the nations of Europe's couldn't get along.

Of course, European carnage was nothing new. The continent had been soaked in blood for the previous two centuries: The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815), Crimean War (1853 - 1856), Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871), World War l (1914 - 1918).

World War ll (1939 - 1945) was just one more in a long succession of European conflicts.

Germany under Adolph Hitler's Nazi Party wanted to rule Europe, then the rest of the world. So Germany invaded Poland. In turn, Great Britain and its Commonwealth (including Canada) and France -- the Allies -- declared war on Germany. Which then invaded Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

What had started as yet another European war in a continent with a long tradition of war spread like the black death 650 years before.

Russia supported first Germany, then the Allies. Italy supported Germany before switching to the Allies. Japan attacked the United States so the Americans too joined the Allies.

And so it went. By the time the guns fell silent after six long, brutal years,100 countries were involved, one way or another. And Europe and parts of Asia lay in ruins.

All that was only 67 years ago.

And 60 million lives ago.


There had to be some way to stop this European madness.

There was.

Nineteen years ago, the European Union (EU) was formed "to make war unthinkable and materially impossible."

Today, almost all of Europe -- 27 nations -- are members.

The EU's core values are: "Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights."

There are still differences between the Germans, the Italians, the British, the French, the Poles, the Belgians, the Dutch and all the others of course. But those differences are no longer settled with guns.

Instead, they're resolved over negotiating tables in the EU's Brussels headquarters.

And not one of its members has attacked another since the guns stopped firing 67 years ago.

Right now, Europe is having serious economic and social problems. But that's no reason to challenge the award of the Nobel Peace prize to the European Union.

That's because, in the words of the award committee, the EU:

"For over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

"The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace."

When it comes to handing out peace prizes, you can't ask for a lot more than traditional enemies beating their swords into ploughshares.

And lions lying down with lambs.

This Peace Prize is truly well-deserved.