President Barack Obama evoked the concept of the ”just war” on Thursday when he accepted his Nobel peace prize, nine days after sending 30000 more US troops into battle in Afghanistan. He promised to use the prize to “reach for the world that ought to be”.
President Obama became the first sitting US president in 90 years, and the third ever, to win the prize – some say prematurely. He and his wife, Michelle, whirled through a day filled with Nobel pomp and ceremony.
Mr Obama delivered a Nobel acceptance speech that he saw as a treatise on war’s use and prevention. “I face the world as it is,” he said, refusing to renounce war for his nation or under his leadership, saying that he is obliged to protect and defend the US. “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms,” Mr Obama said. “To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history.” The President specified the circumstances in which war is justified: in self-defence, to come to the aid of an invaded nation, or on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government, or when civil war threatens to engulf an entire region. “The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.”
He also spoke bluntly of the cost of war, saying of the Afghanistan build-up he has just ordered that “some will kill, some will be killed”. “No matter how justified, war promises human tragedy.”
Mr Obama emphasised the importance of alternatives to violence, such as diplomacy and tough sanctions, to confront nations such as Iran or North Korea, which defy international demands to halt their nuclear programmes, or those such as Sudan, Congo or Burma, which brutalise their citizens.
The US President was in Oslo for only 24 hours and missed the traditional second day of festivities, including a banquet. This miffed some in Norway, but reflects a White House that sees little value in extra pictures of the President, while his poll numbers drop at home, taking an overseas victory lap while thousands of US troops prepare to go to war and millions of Americans remain jobless.
In awarding the prize to Mr Obama, the Nobel panel cited his call for a world free of nuclear weapons, for a more engaged US role in combating global warming, for his support of the UN and Multilateral Diplomacy, and for capturing the attention of the world and giving people “hope”. But the Nobel committee made its announcement in October when he was not even nine months on the job, recognising his aspirations more than his achievements.
“I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labours on the world stage,” Mr Obama said. “Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize, my accomplishments are slight.”
The timing of the ceremony so soon after Mr Obama’s Afghanistan announcement, inspired peace activists. His motorcade arrived at Oslo’s government complex for his meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as anti-war protesters gathered nearby.
“The Afghan people are paying the price,” some shouted. Peace activists carried mock coffins through New York City to protest against Mr Obama being awarded the Nobel.
Source: (www.timeslive.co.za 20091211)
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