Thursday, 10 December 2009

War and peace as Obama accepts Nobel Prize

Today President Barack Obama is here in Oslo, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony at the City Hall at 1 p.m. Tonight approximately 10,000 people came to see and cheer him, or to protest, when he and Michelle Obama made a brief appearance on the balcony of Grand Hotel before the Nobel banquet.
In his Nobel speech, Obama spoke almost as much about war as about peace. He quoted Martin Luther King, who received the Peace Prize in 1964: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones”.
“As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence”, Obama said, but added: “But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their [King’s and Gandhi’s] examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. [...] To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason”.
He did however mark a clear difference from the regime of his predecessor George W. Bush: “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. [...] We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor - we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard”.
The whole speech may be read here:

Barack Obama was by the way not the only person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize today. Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 laureate, today got back the medal and the diploma which Iranian authorities stole from her bank safety box recently. It was the first time a Nobel Peace Prize had been confiscated by a political regime.

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