President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today with, paradoxically, a defense of war. Obama began his speech by acknowledging the controversy surrounding his reward, both because his accomplishments are slight and because of the wars he presides over. “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes,” he said, and the use of force will sometimes be “not only necessary but morally justified. … The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.”
He contrasted his remarks with those of Martin Luther King Jr., who said in his Nobel acceptance speech that “violence never brings permanent peace.” As commander in chief, “I face the world as it is. … For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world,” Obama said. But King and Gandhi’s philosophy “must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.” He called for serious international consequences for nations expanding their nuclear arsenals or “brutalizing their own people,” and urged support for reformers working for human rights in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, and Iran.