Published December 10, 2009
It is silly, as some pundits have tried, to blame Obama for winning the prize. He didn’t give the honor to himself. And when the committee made its selection, what choice did the American president have? Accept the peace prize gracefully. Strike a humble tone. Get out of Norway quick.
All of that Obama handled with his usual aplomb. But how much rhetorical saber-rattling do we need this week? In the Nobel speech, he hit some downright Bushian chords.
“Just war” in pursuit of “just peace.”
Sanctions that “exact a real price.”
“I face the world as it is,” the president said, “and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.” The world, he emphasized, must accept “the hard truth -- that violence cannot be eradicated and nations sometimes must wage war to protect their citizens from evil regimes or terrorist groups.”
All those sentiments are embedded in centuries of reasonable analysis, the intellectual underpinnings of the occasional need for war.
But this president – this Nobel Peace Prize winner – has to move beyond this burst of tough talk. We get it. Iraq will take a while, and we’re leaving Afghanistan by way of a surge. But war isn’t the only road to peace in the world. Peace can be a road to peace too.
Give Obama credit for setting a better tone internationally, for treating our allies like they matter now, for understanding that a global war on terror actually has to be a global war. These are changes the Nobel committee was saluting.
But tough talk and tough surges will never alone bring peace. And they can’t be the extent of a changed foreign policy.
Along the way – and before too much longer – perhaps Obama will some of his eloquence on the peace part.
Ellis Henican is a columnist for Newsday and amNewYork and a Fox News contributor.