President Obama didn't say the word "Iraq" once in his lengthy speech in Oslo, Norway, upon accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. Nor was he overtly vindictive toward his predecessor, and nor did he seek to score points for not being President Bush--it was mostly a discussion of war, peace, and how Obama sees international security.
But, since the Bush administration saw so many critical developments in how the U.S. approaches security--from the war in Iraq to the use of waterboarding on suspected terrorists--the hot-button topics of the Bush administration couldn't be avoided completely. Here's how Obama dealt with them.
Comparing the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan:
...I am the commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. 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...
On American unilateralism:
America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention - no matter how justified.
This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.
On the Geneva Conventions, torture, and Guantanamo Bay:
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 that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.
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