Mike Crowley reacts:
Obama is a man trapped amongst the contradictions created by America's awkward place in the post-Bush world. Last week, Obama's address on Afghanistan both escalated and promised an end to the war there. Today, Obama opened his Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech with a long disquisition on the nature of war and its necessity--complete with a brief survey of "just war" theory. (He even threw in a passage about the necessary role of coercion against states like Iran and North Korea that mess around with nuclear weapons.) I suppose it was the honest way to take such a prize at a time when America has about 200,000 soldiers occupying foreign countries. But it was something of a surreal exercise.
Ross was mostly impressed:
In a sense, this was one of the clearer statements of foreign policy principle that Obama has delivered to date: An extended defense of using realist means in the service of liberal internationalist ends. It’s an approach that fits at least some of the challenges we face, and the turn toward modesty and pragmatism, in particular toward the pursuit of “a more practical, attainable peace,” to quote Obama quoting John F. Kennedy this morning makes sense as a corrective to some of the more hubristic elements of Bush’s foreign policy. (Thought that corrective had already largely taken hold in Bush’s second term.) But of course, it’s also an approach that hasn’t borne any significant fruit as yet, in a presidency that’s only just begun to face its hardest challenges. Which is why an air of the ridiculous still hung about the ceremony, with its jazz interludes, defensive introductory remarks, and cutaways to Will Smith in the audience. As effective as the speech was in certain ways, it still should never have been given.
Unsurprisingly, John Bolton hated it.
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