Peace prize awaits `war president’ Obama in OsloDecember 9th, 2009 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS
By Mike McCarthy
Washington, Dec 9 (DPA) US President Barack Obama will have to put on his best balancing act when he arrives Thursday in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, a week after ordering a major escalation of the fight in Afghanistan.
Receiving one of the world’s most coveted and celebrated honours places Obama in the uneasy position of accepting the prize while defending his decision to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, making the inherited war there his own policy.
The White House says Obama will not dodge the issue during his brief stay in the Norwegian capital, acknowledging the awkward timing of the award first announced in October.
“We’ll address directly the notion that many have wondered, which is the juxtaposition of the timing for the peace prize and his commitment to add more troops into Afghanistan,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said a few days before trip.
Asked if Obama was accepting the Nobel as a “war president”, Gibbs replied: “Exactly.”
The Nobel Committee announced Oct 9 that Obama won the award.
Even though Obama’s resume since taking office Jan 20 is thin on foreign policy accomplishments, the committee credited Obama for setting a new tone for international multi-lateralism and for his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, outlined in an April speech in Prague.
The Nobel Committee’s decision left many puzzled over how it could be given to president less than a year in office with few accomplishments. Americans themselves have questioned whether their leader deserved it.
A Quinnipiac Univeristy poll of 2,313 voting Americans released Tuesday found that 66 percent believed Obama was undeserving, while only 26 felt he was good choice.
Paul Kawika Martin, political director for Peace Action, one of the largest groups of its kind in the US, said Obama’s Nobel Prize is “a little bit premature”.
“Alfred Nobel said it was for people who were reducing standing armies, and here we have a president who is increasing standing armies,” Martin said.
Martin, however, praised Obama’s Prague speech on ridding the world of atomic weapons.
“He has said some amazing things about nuclear weapons. If he succeeds with his vision, he will certainly deserve the peace prize,” Martin said.
Until then, Obama doesn’t belong in the same category as past recipients Martin Luther King Jr and Aung San Suu Kyi, the peace activist said.
Obama offered a glimpse of how he might handle the situation after he learned of the award that left him “both surprised and deeply humbled”.
“I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honoured by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace,” he said.
He did not brush aside the fact the US is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but provided a dose of realism while acknowledging the prize’s lofty ideals.
“Even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared,” Obama said, “we have to confront the world as we know it today.”
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