On Wednesday, a group of House Republicans nominated President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, writing in a letter to the Nobel Committee that the president should be awarded the prize due to his attempts to "bring peace" to the Korean Peninsula. The letter came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced that the country will freeze its nuclear and missile tests as it pursues a peace agreement with South Korea.
"Since taking office, President Trump has worked tirelessly to apply maximum pressure to North Korea to end its illicit weapons program and bring peace to the region," the group of 18 Republicans claimed in its letter to the committee. "His Administration successfully united the international community, including China, to impose one of the most successful international sanctions regimes in history. The sanctions have decimated the North Korean economy and have been largely credited for [sic] bringing North Korea to the negotiating table."
Although there has been undeniable improvement in North-South relations over the last several weeks, it's unclear what role, if any, Trump has played in this progress. Despite the claims of House Republicans, the international community first imposed sanctions on North Korea more than a decade before Trump took office, and has been doing so rather consistently since then. Whether or not Trump's sanctions on North Korea have been effective is a matter of debate, and the state of the country's economy is impossible to gauge, given that the North Korean government doesn't release economic figures.
However, at least one central figure in the Korean peace talks is in agreement with the House Republicans: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who reportedly told members of his cabinet on Monday that "Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize" for his work "bringing about the inter-Korean talks."
In April, Kim crossed the southern border for a historic face-to-face meeting with Moon, which was the first time in history a North Korean leader has set foot in the south. The two leaders subsequently released a joint statement proclaiming that both countries "confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula."
The details of how the leaders hope to accomplish this are unclear. However, North Korea has agreed to shift its time zone back by 30 minutes to align with that of the south, while South Korea has begun dismantling the loudspeakers it has long used to blast propaganda across the southern border.
North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, shortly after the country split into two, and although a ceasefire was signed three years later, the two countries technically remained at war. As a result of their meeting in April, the two Koreas' leaders announced both countries would discuss a permanent end to the decades-long war.
Many Democrats and progressives bristled at the notion of Trump, who authorized airstrikes in Syria and once said that he loves war, being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. However, the qualifications to be nominated for the award are relatively lax: Per the committee's rules, any federal lawmaker in any country can nominate somebody for the prize, as can any cabinet secretary or head of state. University professors in certain fields can also submit Peace Prize nominations, as can past prize winners and members of the International Criminal Court. Trump is one of 330 people and entities to be nominated for the 2018 award, according to the committee.
The Nobel Peace Prize has long been the source of controversy. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Putin were all nominated for the prize at various points, while past winners of the award include Henry Kissinger, Yassir Arafat, Menachem Begin and Barack Obama, who was given the award just nine months into the first term of his presidency.
After Trump was nominated for the prize, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham quipped that "a lot of liberals would kill themselves" if the president won the award.