DANIEL VAUGHAN: Give Volodymyr Zelensky the Nobel Peace Prize

The legend of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky grows by the day. His defense of Ukraine in the face of Vladimir Putin’s Russia is the stuff of legend, as are his speeches on social media. But the greatest accomplishment he’s accomplishing now is something no political leader has done in a generation: uniting the United States, Europe, and Asia around a single goal.

The Washington Post reports that none of the world leaders had planned on unleashing the level of sanctions and support for Ukraine that got announced over the weekend. Everything changed when Zelensky got on a video conference call with European leaders and made a desperate plea to them to help him save his country.

After that call, the tune across Europe changed with world leaders agreeing to kick Russia out of SWIFT. Germany announced they would up their defense spending, economic sanctions across all countries, and no-fly zones for Russians popped up, and arms started flooding to Ukraine.

It is one of the most startling turn-arounds in geopolitical history.

Europe’s pivot was so quick that it left the Biden administration scrambling. They were not prepared for Europe to push for these changes, and they had to catch up to announce sanctions that lined up with Europe. In Biden’s defense, no one saw the change across Europe.

That stark change in Europe’s provided us with a glimpse of something the United States has wanted but never had: a united Europe that’s seeking energy dependence and building better defenses. The most shocking part is that even Switzerland, the perennial neutral country in all things related to European or global politics, is talking about joining the sanctions effort.

It’s not just a pivot of policy. It’s a fundamental reshaping of all geopolitical realities. Europe and the United States are now synced up so closely on policy that China’s relationship with Russia is now a liability. China is losing both an ally and strategic advantage to go after Taiwan.

All of this is the product of one man’s inspiration: Volodymyr Zelensky.

The world has been radically altered because of one man standing up to Vladimir Putin and inspiring his countrymen and the world. We don’t know the result of the Ukraine-Russia war, but Zelensky has made his mark on the planet. And for that impact, there’s no one else in the world who has earned the Nobel Peace Prize more.

Unlike so many previous recipients, Zelensky has taken steps to end a war. He’s defending his people and providing leadership that makes politicians worldwide, particularly in the United States and Europe, pale in comparison.

The Guardian interviewed one European leader’s office, who said: “We are in awe of him. He may not eventually be able to save Ukraine, or change Russia, but he is changing Europe.”

They added:

[S]anctions regarded as unthinkable a week ago have become a moral baseline. The pace at which the west has been agreeing to the new sanctions has also left the lawyers, officials and bankers gasping for air, officials admit, as they work under severe pressure to turn headlines into reality.

The impossible is happening, and the unthinkable is now a reality. Zelensky is reshaping the world while actively involved in defense of his country from the invasion of Vladimir Putin.

Putin began his invasion with a set of assumptions of the world that many shared. He assumed that Germany would handcuff Europe because it would fear Putin turning off oil pipelines to Europe.

Experts thought Europe was too divided to unite behind comprehensively opposing Russia. Most concerning of all, fear of China was presumed to provide a firewall to keep any unity from occurring.

All those assumptions are gone. Europe is listening to the calls of Volodymyr Zelensky. Putin, sensing this danger, has allegedly dispatched assassination squads for Zelensky. Ukraine has responded by bonding around Zelensky, while Europe and the West follow his calls for aid.

The Nobel Peace Prize says it gets awarded to those “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” It’s obviously not always lived up to that ideal, but there’s an obvious candidate for this year.

Volodymyr Zelensky has earned the Nobel Peace Prize. Hopefully, the West can build off his leadership to repel Putin’s invasion and use this new unity to create a safer world. It’s not every year there’s an obvious candidate — that’s not true this year.

Award the Nobel Peace Prize to Volodymyr Zelensky.