Few champagne corks popped in Lithuania at the news of Mikhail Gorbachev's Nobel Peace Prize.
Consider his record in the past six months: Lithuania declares a restoration of independence and the Soviet Army invades Vilnius with tanks and paratroops. The Russians seize printing presses and government offices and drag frightened boys back into the Red Army.There are MIG overflights, helicopters scatter more pro-Soviet propaganda leaflets than Vermont has maple leaves. Western journalists are expelled and the press blackout begins.
These are hardly things one would expect from Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer or Mohandas Gandhi, other members of the Nobel Peace Prize fraternity.
When the Lithuanians still refuse to rescind their declaration of independence, Gorbachev orders a blockade that ruins the economy, and though he officially lifts it after his summit meeting with President Bush, he continues it in subtle but paralyzing ways.
Even conservative estimates put the damage to Lithuania's economy as a result of the blockade in the billions of dollars and still counting. Simple good sportsmanship suggests Gorbachev donate his $700,000 prize to help offset what his embargo has created.
Even today, Gorbachev keeps hacking away at Lithuania to join a federated Soviet Union. A recent deal between Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Republic, has all the necessary ingredients to undermine trade agreements between Lithuania and the Federation - agreements that were intended to release Lithuania as Moscow's economic hostage.
Beginning in 1991 Moscow threatens hard currency payments from Lithuania for much commercial trade. The indispensable industrial triad of crude oil, natural gas and metals could be the first, and, coming in winter, would create conditions far worse than the spring blockade.
Deliveries for the current quarter's goods, particularly medical supplies, are not guaranteed. These tactics are nothing short of blackmail.
Tanks still casually patrol downtown Vilnius each evening, and several key buildings seized by the Soviet army in March have yet to be returned to the Lithuanians.
In southeastern Lithuania, the Lithuanian Communist Party, funded by Moscow, continues to provoke ethnic unrest among Poles and Russians under Gorbachev's direction. Contrary to the Lithuanian Constitution, local councils still controlled by the Communist old guard recently declared two districts as autonomous regions.
These stunts, encouraged by Gorbachev, are inconsistent with the Nobel prize.
In a telegram of congratulations, in which he addressed Gorbachev as "Your Majesty," Lithuania's President Vytautas Landsbergis, himself a nominee for the prize, expressed hope that the award would "widen neighborly relations between the Soviet Union and Lithuania and help restore Baltic independence."
So it is still not too late for Gorbachev to deserve what he has already won.