President Obama at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
December 10, 2009
President Obama Speaks at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

This morning, President Obama spoke at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo, Norway. The President said:

"Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of 'just war' was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations -- total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it's hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations -- an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize -- America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states -- all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."Full Text

Read more on the White House Blog.

Comments

Comments

Jack
|
Virginia, USA
December 10, 2009

Jack in Virginia writes:

The President's speech in Oslo was eloquent, strong, and inspiring. While I expected nothing less, I was particularly pleased that he was brave enough to make the assertion that force is often necessary to secure the peace.

The Right has often criticized President Obama for being too apologetic while speaking to foreign audiences, but I fear most of who criticize him have very little understanding of what it takes to practice diplomacy abroad (I wonder how many actually have passports and have traveled abroad, or ever engaged foreign audiences?). Today's speech was another important step forward for renewing our reputation abroad. It also made clear another critical point: President Obama gave the speech HE wanted to give, not necessarily the speech Europe was expecting. While embracing the need to work toward peace, he was firm in communicating to the world the price of peace.

Middle age has jaded me a bit (not as optimistic as I used to be, I'm afraid), but today's speech was another one of those rare moments when I found myself truly moved by this sterling example of American leadership abroad.

Nicely done, Mr. President.

Jack

Joseph
|
Oregon, USA
December 11, 2009

Joseph in Oregon writes:

I am very pleased to have seen the President accepting the Noble Peace Prize today, it is truly a great honor. However, I have yet to see a concerted effort, in launching a peace initiative, something major? Like the establishment of a Palestinian state, peace and stability in East Africa? Engagement in a dialogue with Iran, over their ambitions with pursuing and further developing nuclear-technology? Reconciliation and nation-building in Afghanistan? That's because, since day-one, he has felt this compelling need to accommodate the other side, meaning the John McCain's, Lindsay Graham's, Sarah Palin's and Neoconservatives. Its political and its all about strategy, they are grooming him for a second term, problem is...."I don't think we have implemented the right strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan I might add..." Where is the reconciliation process? Should he be on the same pedestal with Dr. Martin Luther King?

I respect our President, he is a class-act and an eloquent speaker and I realize that the position of Commander in Chief has it's responsibilities, but now, in the interest of global Peace and stability, it's show time....Mr. President!

Ilia
|
Puerto Rico
December 11, 2009

Ilia in Puerto Rico writes:

Congratulations President Obama for the Nobel Prize. Is it well deserved. You are a man of peace. God Bless you!

Julia
|
New York, USA
December 13, 2009

Julia in New York writes:

Wonder how many actually have passports and have traveled abroad, or ever engaged foreign audiences?). Today's speech was another important step forward for renewing our reputation abroad. It also made clear another critical point: President Obama gave the speech HE wanted to give, not necessarily the speech Europe was expecting. While embracing the need to work toward peace, he was firm in communicating to the world the price of peace.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
December 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I'd have to say the President doesn't do himself enough credit for having gotten folks to think.

Which is I think, what the Nobel Peace Prize fundementally represents.

The highest award in fact...for pointing out a better path.

Fellow asked whether anyone @ the Dept of State bothers to read what gets written as comment here the other day...

I guess that all depends on whether folks want to get our money's worth out of Dipnote...(chuckle), but I'll consider my question from 9 days ago answered in full at this point.

To what nameless staffer I may owe my thanks to I haven't a clue, but the thing I like about giving feedback back to the gov. is seeing a thought taken to the next level.

Gives me hope it does....

---

"In your opinion Madam Secretary, is it reasonable for the American public, through it's elected and appointed officials, to remind the Europeans that we've bled buckets of blood for their freedom and prosperity in the past and that they need to prove to us now they have the will and capacity to take responsibility for their collective security at home and abroad?"

EJ-Dec.4th

http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/entries/travel_diary_brussels/

---

"Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."

-President Obama- Oslo, Dec. 10 2009

---

...and I'm once again reminded that you never really do know who reads these things, and then there are..."sometimes a happy accident".

When thoughts converge...

.

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