President Obama, in Oslo, accpeted his Nobel Prize today, strking a note of humility, saying that “compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize” his own accomplishments were “slight.”
He also evoked the notion of a “just war,” defending the use of military force “on humanitarian grounds” and to preserve peace.
Aides said he had still been writing and editing his acceptance speech during the seven-hour flight from Washington, focusing directly on the paradox of accepting a prize for peace after announcing last week that he would send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan.
“Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars,” Mr. Obama said in his prepared remarks. “One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.”
“Still, we are at war,” he said, “ and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.”
Peace, he said, is “unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.”