'Just War': Obama's Hawkish Nobel Speech

Obama did not shy from the tension of receiving the peace prize while conducting a war

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President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today in Oslo, Norway. His speech (full text here) struck commentators for its humility and its hawkishness. Pundits had warned Obama that his most difficult challenge would be reconciling the peace prize with his recent decision to massively escalate the war in Afghanistan. Obama dealt with that by addressing the juxtaposition head-on, using the opportunity to argue for the war as a means to further peace.

  • The Obama Doctrine ABC News's Rick Klein thinks Obama's speech laid out "an Obama doctrine -- of 'just war' and 'just peace,' of 'evolution' of institutions to reflect new realities." Klein finds "a humility that was much of what he was recognized for in the first place." He quotes from the speech:
It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice. And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. [...] But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a military, of a nation, in the midst of two wars.
  • The War President The American Prospect's Adam Serwer disdains the emphasis on war in speech supposedly for peace. "This is a second escalation speech. I will say that this is probably the most clear/eloquent expression of 'The Obama Doctrine' yet. I'm just disappointed with what that is. gotta be the first time MLK Jr has been invoked in a justification of military intervention." Serwer quotes from the speech, "'We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.' Then we've 'lost' ourselves."
  • Conservative-Friendly Speech NBC News's Chuck Todd points out the conservative tone of the speech made in Norway, one of the most liberal countries in the world: "[Obama] Defends America in this speech; and the role the U.S. has played in global security. That's something Bill Kristol could defend, yes? Not easy to stand in front of a [committee] devoted to 'peace' and make a case for a 'just war.'"
  • Humility ABC News's Jake Tapper nods. "POTUS starts off acknowledging controversy - compared to King, Mandela, 'my accomplishments are slight.' Then gives nod to those imprisoned for human rights - says he cannot argue w/those who say they are more deserving. Then touches on getting peace prize while US in 2 wars -- he deployed thousands. 'Some will kill. And some will be killed.'"
  • The Taliban Condemns One of the first reactions came from Obama's top target in Afghanistan, the Taliban. "As for the Afghans, they did not expect Obama, a Nobel peace prize winner, to flare up the war in the country. Nor the Alfred Nobel would ever have agreed to give peace prize to a person who is fanning flames of war rather than spreading fraternity and peace. But despite his warmongering approach, Obama did not achieve his declared goal of wiping out the Mujahideen in Helmand or realizing the take, hold and build strategy."
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