If the Nobel Committee could get over his politics and methods, they would reward his Korean triumph.
The Nobel Committee has something of a fetish for awarding the Peace Prize to centre-left American politicians, regardless of merit.
At least former president Jimmy Carter had involved himself in decades of peace initiatives, however futile most proved to be, when he received the prize in 2002. Former vice-president Al Gore, on the other hand, won the prize for his celebrity endorsement of climate change doom-mongering.
In Barack Obama's case in 2009, the rationale was weaker still: he had not even been in office a year and had achieved virtually nothing for the cause of peace during that time. But he was a symbol of hope to centre-left types around the world, who could not yet imagine the anarchy he would bring to Libya or the ceaseless wars he would wage with drones.
This year's prize should go to an American leader who has earned it, for once: Donald Trump. But will the Nobel Committee free itself from its ideological straitjacket to give it to him? President Trump is everything Obama was not. He is a man of the Right, not the Left. He is brash and intensely disliked by much of world opinion, especially elite opinion.
Obama had a soft touch and was loved almost as greatly as Trump is despised. Yet the only thing that should matter is what Trump has achieved, in contrast to what Obama did not.
If President Trump succeeds in negotiating an end to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's nuclear provocations, he will have defused the most dangerous crisis the world faces at present. There is even a chance Trump will help bring a non-violent conclusion to a war that has officially lasted 67 years.
The North and South never came to a formal peace agreement in the Korean War and to this day have only an armistice to underwrite the ceasefire. Yet Seoul and Pyongyang have begun moving toward treaty talks as part of the wider effort to resolve the nuclear impasse, with the South's President Moon Jae In to meet Kim for a historic summit today.
An American president first won the Peace Prize in 1906, when Theodore Roosevelt received it for brokering peace in the Russo-Japanese War. What Trump is poised to accomplish on the Korean peninsula would be a far greater triumph of diplomacy. That will be so even if the result is something less than what the Trump administration has called for in its maximal demands: the denuclearisation of North Korea. Kim is unlikely to give up his weapons in any scenario, but world peace will be well served if he simply stops further nuclear and ballistic tests and agrees to a non-proliferation framework.
That should certainly be good enough for the Nobel Committee. But the contrast between Trump and Obama suggests why it might not be. Obama came to power promising to pursue peace the left-wing way, through humility and understanding. His demeanour counted for more than his record, which in 2009 was practically nonexistent. President Trump has used tough language and the threat of violence to change the calculus of war and peace in Korea. The method as much as the man may be unpalatable to the panel.
Even the diplomatic philosophy of Roosevelt a century ago — "Speak softly and carry a big stick" — may be too much for the committee. Trump's approach of tweeting loudly, so to speak, while brandishing his stick can be counted on to be met with disapproval.
If the Peace Prize is to do any good in the world, however, it cannot be reserved for fashionable left-wing figures and causes. Peace is a practical goal, not an unworldly ideal.
The means to achieve peace, and the leaders who do it best, are not always pretty.
The Nobel Committee and the community of opinion that looks on the Peace Prize as an affirmation of liberal pieties may find Trump distasteful. Nevertheless, he is set to be the man most deserving of the honour.
If that seems shocking, it is a shock that ought to prompt a rethink of how international relations really work.
Decades of conventional diplomacy with North Korea only led to the Kim dynasty acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them between continents. To make peace demands a new approach, and President Trump has found one.
Daniel McCarthy is an American political commentator.