In his speech in Oslo today accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama acknowledged the irony in his receipt of the prize when he is commander-in-chief of a nation waging two wars. His speech offered a pragmatic defense of the need to wage war in order to win peace. Among other things, he said:
“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: 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 Jr. 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 work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s 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 may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”
What do you think of his speech and the philosophy he explained? Agree? Disagree? Please send me your comments by clicking on the “comments” link below.
More on the speech at the White House website
See: Commentary in the Christian Science Monitor
See: Commentary on Politico
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