There’s a sad aspect to this Nobel Peace Prize that reflects how myopic the close-minded Norwegian Nobel Committee actually is. While the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has made a lot of noise, in reality one person, who never received the Nobel Peace Prize came the closest in history actually to accomplish a total abolition of nuclear weapons. That person was, of course, United States President Ronald Reagan who hated nuclear weapons his entire life and was a nuclear abolitionist.
At the October 11 and 12, 1986, Summit between Reagan and Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan came the closest anyone ever achieved to reach Reagan’s goal. During two private walks with Gorbachev outside the Reykjavik, Iceland, Summit, Reagan argued for an abolition of nuclear weapons through the world, and, in the second meeting, Gorbachev actually agreed to the proposal. Unfortunately, the two leaders were never able to announce their agreement, because the Soviet diplomatic team convinced Gorbachev to renege almost immediately upon rejoining him at the meeting. For the remainder of his life, Reagan expressed that October 12, 1986, was ultimately the saddest day of his life, because he had come so close to achieving his greatest policy goal.
It’s, therefore, quite sad that the Nobel Committee never recognized Reagan’s efforts, which came to closest of anyone ever actually to achieving a nuclear weapons abolition. The politics of the 1980s would never have brought the Nobel Committee to the point of acknowledging Reagan’s great efforts.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday announced the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons as winner of the $1.1 million prize.
The Geneva-based organization ICAN “has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate … in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons,” committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in the announcement.
She noted that similar prohibitions have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.
“Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition,” she said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walsstrom said that giving the prize to ICAN was “well-deserved and timely.”
Walsstrom said that the organization has been working hard since 2007 and “we know how serious the situation is around in the world.”
Reiss-Andersen said “through its inspiring and innovative support for the U.N. negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.”
Asked by journalists whether the prize was essentially symbolic, given that no international measures against nuclear weapons have been reached, Reiss-Andersen said “What will not have an impact is being passive.”