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Nobel Peace Speech by President Obama

posted by Scot McKnight

LincObama.jpgWhat did you think of Obama’s speech? (First bit below…, but this is the sort of speech that reflects either “gravitation toward the [political] mean” once in office, or a form of political posturing in the presence of Europeans and the world. Only time will tell is this is the Obama Doctrine for international conflict.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:
 
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility.  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.  (Laughter.)  In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.  Compared to some of the giants of history who’ve received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight.  And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics.  I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honor than I.
 
But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military 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 42 other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
 
Still, we are at war, and I’m responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.  Some will kill, and some will be killed.  And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.



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RGB

posted December 12, 2009 at 2:59 pm


It was a very entertaining and well delivered speech lacking in depth of content or significance. He is correct in his assessment of his “deserving” of this award. I fail to see the “profound” nature of the fact he is C-in-C of 2 wars in different stages… juxtaposed to him getting a peace prize?? President Obama is a genuine post-modern leader. He has no real ground to stand on. Give me a leader who understands evil and will speak it clearly and take a stand against it (like Winston Churchill) any day!



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nathan

posted December 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm


re: comment #1
ugh.



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MattR

posted December 12, 2009 at 6:34 pm


The speech was good, and pretty much what I expected.
Obama is not a ‘liberal’ as many have tried to portray him… he has always been much more of a moderate/centrist (though maybe a moderate that leans slightly to the left).
All one has to do is listen to few progressives to know that Obama is not one… His foreign policy is more realist than idealist. He was against the Iraq war, but always for Afghanistan.
Though I personally take much more of Christian non-violence position…
This was NOT political posturing on the president’s part. I think it truly reflects his views, and maybe is the beginning of an ‘Obama doctrine.’ Which, from the sounds of it, seems much more ‘third way’ than the recent neo-con vs. progressive positions.



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Brandon

posted December 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm


I thought the inclusion and explanation of “just war” theory was necessary for a head of State, but I love the closing parts the most.
Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”
So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.



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Stephen Mook

posted December 12, 2009 at 9:17 pm


Barack Obama’s Noble Peace Prize speech, is one of greatest articulations of “just war” that I’ve ever heard. Obama, is a master politician, but this speech wasn’t about politics. This speech was a definitive picture into Obama’s moral certitude. Obama’s heroes are Ghandi and King. Yet, Obama takes his peace doctrine a step further.
?I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence, I know there is nothing weak ? nothing passive ? nothing na?ve ? 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.? 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-Qaida?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.?
Obama agrees with Saint Augustine in one specific area ?It is therefore with the desire of peace that wars are waged,” and even in the midst of accepting an undeserved Noble Peace Prize; Obama, used the historic opportunity to give a persuasive and masterful speech for peace.
God and history will one day judge his certitude and decision, but regardless of Obama’s just or unjust war, this was a speech for the history books.



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Dave Leigh

posted December 13, 2009 at 2:07 am


I agree it was a great speech and a nice defense of just war. But given that this was given in acceptance of the Nobel PEACE Price, wouldn’t it have been nice if, in addressing the world, Obama invited the world, and our adversaries to PEACE?
Forget the prize; it’s also Christmas! How about “peace on earth, good will toward all”?
But his rationalization of war as a means to peace just sounds more like 1984 newspeak than like words fitting a Nobel Laureate.



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Chris

posted December 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm


A head of state describing a war as “just”. When have they not felt this way? This wasn’t “third way”. This was justification for not being willing to risk what Gandhi and King risked, choosing instead to once again recognize “history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” That being said, I don’t expect the State to adopt views on nonviolence that I might have as a follower of Jesus. But I can still feel disappointed, and I can’t help but wish there was more of a push to work at the root causes of terrorist activity (poverty, education) rather than only using military means to try to bring about change. Perhaps there just might be a different result if a true “third way” approach would be tried? I’m just not sure that more force works in this context, and can’t understand how he can see history on his side in Afghanistan.



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John M.

posted December 13, 2009 at 6:28 pm


Chris, I appreciate your position and your ideals. I can certainly wish that we lived in a “pre-fallen” world, and I long for the Political Peace on Earth that Messiah, Jesus will ultimately bring in the new heaven and the new earth. But I would also point out that the roots of Jihad are much deeper, more profound and difficult than “poverty” and a lack of “education”. There are multitudes of uneducated poor in the world who do not result to terrorism and armed uprising because they are not formed and driven by a religious philosophy of using the sword to enforce religious/political rule on others. Keep in mind, also, that Islamic terrorism is extremely well-funded and their adherants are well-educated in their doctrine. So I would differ with you on the roots of terrorist activity.



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