Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize: ‘I am at the Beginning, and Not the End’

December 10, 2009

(ChattahBox)—President Obama arrived in Oslo, Norway on Thursday to accept his Nobel Peace Prize, acknowledging in his speech the “considerable controversy” that was generated by the award. He said that his accomplishments were “slight,” but that his presence on the world stage was just beginning. He said earlier that he viewed the prestigious award, as “a call to action.” Invoking President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech, Obama passionately spoke of the continuing and global struggle between war and peace, pointing out the fact that he arrived to accept an award of peace when he is faced with two wars. And just nine days after ordering the deployment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Obama was greeted with trumpets and applause, as he prepared to speak before the assembled dignitaries on Thursday:

“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.”

Obama’s beginning:

“And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. 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 have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight.”

President Obama made the case for wars of “necessity,” while acknowledging that the concept of “just wars” has been used to wage carnage and bloodshed:

“But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief 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 forty three other countries – including Norway…” […]

“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.” […]

“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.” […]

Obama mentioned the abuse of the rule of law during the Bush administration:

“Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention – no matter how justified.”

Obama outlined his vision of peace, where human rights are respected around the world and nations address global warming to prevent world-wide famine and drought:

“Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about.”

“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 deprivation, 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.”

Obama is just the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the first to win it in his first year as president. The previous sitting U.S. presidents who won were: Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

After the ceremony, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend an evening award banquet. The prize includes a $1.4 million check, a 18-carat gold medal and a diploma. Obama plans to donate the cash prize to charity.

The full text of President Obama’s speech can be found here.


Photo Source: CNN


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