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Prizes Sorry, Ron And Mikhail

2 minute read

In Washington they waited. In Moscow they waited. In Oslo they knew. Despite persistent rumors that Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev would share the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize for signing last year’s agreement banning intermediate- range nuclear weapons, the prize was awarded last week to the United Nations peacekeeping forces. Egil Aarvik, chairman of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee, cited the multinational army of 8,600 for its contribution to “reducing tensions where an armistice has been negotiated but a peace treaty has yet to be established.” First sent into action in 1948 as an observer mission between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the peacekeeping forces have enforced an uneasy calm in 14 conflicts and are currently deployed in nine countries. Over the years, the forces have lost more than 700 lives.

The news further lifted morale at the U.N., which, after years of being criticized by the U.S. as irrelevant and ineffectual, has enjoyed notable successes in helping end the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war. U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who will travel to Oslo in early December to accept the medal and $388,000 on behalf of the soldiers, was also touted as a possible prizewinner.

Though the U.N. forces are obviously a worthy selection, Aarvik did little to dampen speculation that the committee passed over Reagan and Gorbachev out of concern that the award would boost George Bush’s presidential chances. Asked if the U.S. election campaign played a part in the decision, Aarvik replied, “We take everything into consideration, everything.”

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