Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize … and the moral necessity of war?

barack_nobel_prize

Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, and did it with a rather unusual defense of just war. Following is an excerpt:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

The rest of the speech is online here (and a billion other places). I thought it was a very astute distinction between the role of social critic (MLK, Ghandi, Bobby) and the moral obligations of a head of state.

Thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize … and the moral necessity of war?

  1. jc

    I haven’t read the speech, but he was between a rock and a hard place, and it wasn’t his fault he was selected for this award. His intentions and Western Europe’s hopes for his administration are what got him the Nobel. But he is also Comm.-in-Chief on the Afghanistan build-up. The honorable thing to do would have been to NOT accept the prize and to simply state that he is undeserving given his tenure in office, but that he has high hopes of living up to the premature honor (something like that, indicating he takes the prize seriously but doesn’t feel he has done enough yet).

    I was wondering what he was going to say given this awkward moment. Actually, your short excerpt here ain’t bad for a start.

    The following statement leads me to believe (if he really believes it), that he may not be as naive as I thought…or he is learning on the job…either case is an improvement over candidate Obama.

    “For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a fan of Barack or his administration

  2. aly hawkins

    I admire the president’s refusal to ignore the elephant in the room. He did this same kind of thing in his “race speech” in Philadelphia — he made the speech ABOUT the uncomfortable and difficult thing, rather than talking around the issue.

    One of the analyses I read this morning called Obama’s reasoning “Niebuhrian,” and I’d agree with that assessment. It’s interesting, however, to see a person’s mind so heavily influenced by Niebuhr even as his heart lies so thoroughly with Pelagius. (Man, I know the feeling.)

    One last thing: I really don’t get the people who accuse Obama of “apologizing for America.”

  3. Kenn Rodriguez

    It seems like it’s his way of saying of “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

    He’s all for diplomacy and trying to mend foreign relations but it doesn’t mean that he’s not going to use what he has to make a point.

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