President Obama accepts Nobel Prize with 'deep gratitude and great humility'

President Obama accepts Nobel Prize with 'deep gratitude and great humility'

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJacobin Editor-at-Large: Valerie Jarrett's support for Citigroup executive's mayoral campaign 'microcosm' of Democrats' relationship with Wall Street Obama to stump for Biden in Philadelphia On India, the US must think bigger MORE offered a resounding defense of the war in Afghanistan on Thursday in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Obama received the award as a wartime president commanding soldiers in two conflicts, and spoke just more than a week after he announced his decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people,” said Obama, adding it is difficult to reconcile the peace prize in an age of global terrorism.

He said sometimes the use of force is necessary.

“A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”

The Nobel committee cited Obama’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons in honoring Obama, but the prize was widely seen as a rebuke of former President George W. Bush. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have both been deeply unpopular in Europe, as was Bush, who was seen as a unilateralist uninterested in cooperating with other countries on issues as diverse as foreign policy and climate change.

Obama began his remarks by quickly acknowledging critics who said he did not deserve the award.

“Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight,” Obama said.

Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr., George Marshall and Nelson Mandela are all past winners of the award, while Mohandas Gandhi did not win the award.

The president's prize comes with an award of about $1 million, and White House officials have said Obama will donate that money to charity.

But Obama devoted the majority of his speech to the concept that he was accepting the prize as a commander in chief of a nation fighting two wars.

Obama said he “reserves the right” to defend Americans from attacks and cast the war in Afghanistan as an important part of that effort.

He also acknowledged the costs of war.

“Some will kill. Some will be killed,” Obama said. “And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.”

He added: “I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice.”

Obama also spoke of his efforts to repair the U.S. image abroad by adhering to the Geneva convention and trying to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend,” Obama said. “And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.”

The president also defended the “painstaking diplomacy” his administration is engaging in with Iran and North Korea.

“I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation,” Obama said. “But I also know that sanctions without outreach — and condemnation without discussion — can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.”