Upon quoting Truman - "We all have to recognize - no matter how great our strength - that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please" - Peter Beinart says of the Nobel speech:
[Obama] showed that he understands just what Truman meant. Because he understands, in a way Cheney and Palin never will, that true moral universalism requires recognizing that Americans are just as capable of evil as anyone else. And that means recognizing that we are in just as much need of restraint. For Obama and Truman, the paradox of American exceptionalism is that only by recognizing that we are not inherently better than anyone else, and thus must bind our power within a framework of law, can we distinguish ourselves from the predatory powers of the past.
He didn’t just condemn human rights horrors in Congo, Burma, Zimbabwe and Iran; he acknowledged that an unfettered America is capable of moral horror itselfwhich is why we must ban torture and submit to the Geneva Conventions. He didn’t just praise US soldiers; he praised the peacekeepers of the United Nations, thus acknowledging that military force can occur within a framework of international institutions and international law.