When Nobel Peace Laureates Meet

Malala Yousafzai tells Barack Obama what his drones are doing.


One of this year's two Nobel Peace Prize winners is Malala Yousafzai, a teenage anti-Taliban activist from Pakistan. Last year, when Yousafzai met a past peace laureate, she risked a little awkwardness by actually bringing up peace:

"I appreciate your concerns, Malala, but I think I know a little bit about peace. I've got a prize I should show you."
White House

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met in the Oval Office Friday with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls….In a statement, the White House says the United States "joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala's courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams."

In a statement released after the meeting, Malala said she was honored to meet with Obama, but that she told him she's worried about the effect of U.S. drone strikes. (The White House statement didn't mention that part.)

"I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees," she said in the statement. "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."

The Nobel Peace Prize has never had much to do with peace, and its record in that realm seems especially poor at a time when one Peace Prize winner, Obama, just entered a new war, and another Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, is criticizing him for not going to war soon enough. Peace may not be Yousafzai's focus, but I'll take the small victory of the Peace Prize honoring someone who, even if only in passing, took an opportunity to tell a powerful person what his war was doing to her country.