The World’s Worst Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

From Rush Limbaugh to Josef Stalin, we round up a rogue’s gallery of the worst Nobel Peace Prize nominees.

One Man's Gaddafi Is Another Man's Gandhi

Sure, the Nobel Peace Prize committee keeps a tight lid on its annual list of nominees, but names often leak in advance of the big reveal. And while it's certainly hard to outdo the judges when it comes to controversial picks (Barack Obama and the E.U., anyone?), some very notorious rogues have managed to slip in among the nominations—including, this year, that famous peacenik Russian President Vladimir Putin. (It's important to note that the Nobel committee does not do the nominating itself, and that a range of people can put up names for the prize.) In advance of Friday's winners' announcement, we take a fond look back at some of the worst names ever floated to receive the illustrious honor.

Sean Gallup/Getty

Vladimir Putin

Peace-Prize Pros: That self-serving deal to remove chemical weapons—likely supplied by the Kremlin—from the clutches of Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

Peace-Prize Cons: His brutal crackdowns on gays, opposition activists, Pussy Rioters, former allies, and Chechan separatists ("There has been no more war in Chechnya for three years," Putin told reporters in 2004, the year of the Beslan bloodbath. "It is over. You can go home. Merry Christmas.").

Chris Carlson/AP

Rush Limbaugh

"Can you imagine, folks, how big Obama's head is today? I didn't think it could get any bigger," Limbaugh said on the occasion of Obama's 2009 Peace Prize win. Limbaugh was pretty darn ticked off that Obama got the Nobel nod despite plans for a troop surge in Afghanistan. But Iraq—that's a different matter, at least according to Rush, who maintains that the Bush-era quagmire was "not a mess" and called veterans who opposed the invasion "phony soldiers." Both of those phrases would have sounded so nice in Limbaugh's Peace Prize acceptance speech had he won in 2007, when the Landmark Legal Foundation nominated the radio host for the honor. (Adding insult to injury, his liberal nemesis Al Gore took home Nobel gold that year.)




Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams

Stanley Williams, known to pals as "Tookie," has the cuddliest nickname of any Peace Prize nominee—and his fans thought he deserved to win for writing a children's book to steer youngsters away from crime. If only he hadn't founded the Crips, one of Los Angeles' most notorious street gangs—and if only he hadn't mowed down three Taiwanese immigrants and a 26-year-old Army vet in two 1979 robberies, murders that eventually landed him on Death Row—he surely would have been a shoo-in for the medal.

Roger Viollet/Getty

Adolf Hitler

Thus reads the record for the Nobel committee's 1939 Peace Prize nomination for one Adolf Hitler:

Profession/Category: Chancellor and Führer of Germany.

Nominator: E.G.C. Brandt, Member of the Swedish Parliament.

Comment: The nomination was withdrawn in a letter of February 1, 1939.

What the record doesn't state: Brandt had nominated Hitler as a hoax, to protest the nomination of Britain's "master of appeasement," Neville Chamberlain.

Miami Herald/MCT

Fidel Castro

El Jefe may have eliminated freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and due process of law in Cuba; terrorized dissenters with his neighborhood spy networks, aka the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; and rounded up gays in de facto concentration camps—but for his "efforts to help developing nations" by sending them Castrocare doctors (no matter that it was often in exchange for subsidized oil imports), a left-wing Norwegian parliamentarian thought Fidel Castro deserved the 2001 Peace Prize.


Josef Stalin

Nothing says "Peace Prize" like Joey Stalin and his gulag archipelago, and indeed the Soviet dictator (and architect of the genocidal Great Terror that claimed close to 700,000 lives) was nominated twice, in 1945 and 1948, for his efforts to bring an end to World War II.


Hugo Chavez

As a man beloved of his own mythmaking, El Comandante would surely have loved to win the 2005 Peace Prize. Never mind that his Bolivarian revolution involved relentless persecution of political opponents and suppression of free speech, which led Human Rights Watch to declare in 2012 that "the risks for judges, journalists, and rights defenders are greater than they’ve ever been under Chávez.”