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Irony as Obama defends U.S. wars while accepting nobel peace prize

Also a while back, I wrote this article in AUB's student newspaper (Outlook) about Obama receiving the Noble Peace Prize. You can read it below.
Surrounding a lot of controversy, American President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace during a ceremony on Thursday December 7, 2009 in Norway. The fact acknowledges the paradox of receiving this award as the U.S. is embroiled in two wars, while maintaining that instruments of war have a role in preserving peace.

In his acceptance speech, Obama told Nobel Committee members and guests in Oslo that achieving peace must begin with the recognition that the use of force is sometimes morally justified. "Make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms."

Obama also used the Nobel platform to exhort allies to help eradicate terrorist extremism in Afghanistan. "I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it," he said, while urging support for NATO and saying "peacekeeping responsibilities shouldn't be left to a few countries."

"War is justified in cases of self-defense, when civilians are being slaughtered by their own government, or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region," continued Obama.

After spending much of the speech talking about the use of force, Obama told the crowd that the recipe for lasting peace should include the development of alternatives to conflict that are strong enough to force intransigent regimes to adhere to international law. Moreover, he said that Iran and North Korea must be held responsible for violations. "Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia," he said. "Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner ended his speech by insisting that a faith in human progress "must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey."

Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to be awarded the peace prize. Theodore Roosevelt claimed the award in 1906 for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese war. Woodrow Wilson won in 1919 for his work as chief architect of the League of Nations. Former President Jimmy Carter received the prize more than two decades after leaving office in recognition of his continued work for international peace and human rights.

The Nobel committee had announced earlier in October that it would bestow the honor on Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" — giving an extra nod to Obama's goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.