Week in Review: Peace Prize, Genocide Resolution

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NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr discusses the week's top stories, including former Vice President Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, with Scott Simon.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore for his work on global climate change. And the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution calling the 1915 killing of Armenians by Turks a genocide.

NPR's senior analyst Dan Schorr joins us.

Dan, hello. Thanks for being with us.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott. My pleasure.

SIMON: And let's start with Mr. Gore.


SIMON: He shares this award with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They cited him as the individual who is in the most to promote greater understanding of climate change.

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: He joins other Americans who have won the award including Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Jane Adams and Henry Kissinger. Now, we have to ask the political question…

SCHORR: Of course.

SIMON: …of the weekend, does this award make it more likely that he'll run for president or that there will be a public demand for him to do?

SCHORR: Well, you may have to ask but I don't think I have to answer without being wrong on these things before. But let me say my impression is he has not indicated any intention of getting into this race, and the way it now looks, he could hardly get into the race without threatening the frontrunner or the next frontrunner. And if I were he, I would say a good Democrat would not want to upset this thing right now and he can probably accomplish more by getting the various Democratic candidates to accept his version of what a climate change policy should be and talk to whoever is the nominee.

SIMON: Now, deadlocked conventions are usually figured to be a thing of the past because you win for several election cycles now, nominations have been won or lost in the primaries.

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: But at the moment, the delegate votes from two large states, Michigan and Florida…

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: …the Democratic Party says because they've moved up their primaries that they will not be counted. Does that introduce the possibility that there may not be, mathematically, a majority that one candidate is able to win in the primary?

SCHORR: Well, if you're suggesting the possibility of a deadlocked convention that we haven't had that for a very long time. When the convention is deadlocked, anything can happen. At that point, people look around on how we can we get out of this. But I think it's not really an odds-on chance.

SIMON: In the Republican Party, Fred Thompson, former senator from Tennessee, made his first appearance in debates without the Republican candidates. His standing in the polls had been impressive, mostly because he hadn't been campaigning to get it.

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: Now, he's begun. is he as popular as a candidate as he was when he wasn't kind of standing outside that ground?

SCHORR: Well, his test really was not to do anything wrong. You can say he didn't do anything wrong. Chris Matthews sort of popped the question at him, who's the prime minister of Canada? He said, Hopper; he had that right. And that was probably the biggest hurdle he had to get over. From there on, he gave rather traditional kind of Republican policy statements.

But what I must say that what he really has to overcome, people still remember that when he was the Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, Nixon said of him, he's dumb as hell but he's friendly. Well, he's going to have to point out now that he's friendly and not dumb as hell, and that is what he has to do.

SIMON: I have to ask a question. What does it say about the United States when asking someone running for president who the prime minister of Canada is, is this considered a trick question?

SCHORR: Indeed. It's meant to catch you unawares and attitudes toward Canada as such a lot of people don't know who the prime minister is, but Thompson, luckily for him, is not one of those.

SIMON: This week, House committee passed a resolution recognizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Turks…


SIMON: …as genocide.


SIMON: Why is this resolution brought up now?

SCHORR: Well, the mass killing of Armenians was back in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. And why it is that the present Turkish government has to answer for it, then you have to understand American politics. Armenians everywhere want to have it known that that was genocide.

Now, as it happens, there are a lot of Armenian Americans in California, where the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, comes from and a couple of other Democrats in the House. Fine, that you can make some progress politically by calling it a genocide.

It is, I must, a rather unfortunate thing but what happens now is when America desperately needs Turkey for a whole group of things and is trying to keep Turkey from invading Iraq to fight the Kurds that at this moment, they've gotten them very, very angry. It's not very helpful to foreign policy whatever it does for Democratic politics.

SIMON: Secretary of State Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been in Moscow this week. They were trying to convince Russia to drop its opposition to U.S. plans to put a missile defense shield in Europe. President Putin was notably truculent at a press conference.

SCHORR: And he remains truculent and not only about the fact the U.S. wants to have a missile defense shield but wants to put elements of the missile defense shield kind of looking down the throat of Russia - in the Czech Republic and in Poland. And Putin has said, you know, you can't do that. And all that the U.S. has tried to do to convince him it's not meant against him do not convince him. And Russia is another country that is needed at this point if only to try to work with Iran and try to do something about the Iranian nuclear program. If you need friends, we have certainly found a way of antagonizing people whom the United States surely desperately needs.

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.


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