There was much to like in President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech, including admitting his achievements are "slight" and others are more deserving. Candor becomes him.
Other welcome passages defended the "just war" in Afghanistan and sang the praises of America as a peacemaker in ways that contradict his misbegotten apologies.
Whether these sentiments are one-offs or herald a new and improved Obama remains to be seen.
For me, the most important part of the speech came in the one paragraph where he invoked two Republican predecessors as models for international engagement. It's got to be driving the lefties nuts, both in Europe-istan and at home.
"In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, [Richard] Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable -- and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies," Obama said. And later: "Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroikanot only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe."
The examples are glib, but intriguing if Obama intends to practice what he preaches. Nixon and Reagan were able to engage the communist powers after first earning reputations as fierce anti-communists. Because they were committed Cold Warriors, they could make lasting peace.
For Obama, the equivalent means his goal of integrating Muslim nations into the global community will not succeed until he proves he is willing to defeat Islamic terrorism.
As a result, he has gone about the policy mostly backward, suggesting he believes it is possible to have peace without victory.
Even his escalation in Afghanistan provokes doubts because he set an 18-month deadline and avoids using the word "win" or "victory." There is no war on terror in his White House.
History says his way doesn't bring peace, only more and bigger wars.
Nixon could go to China because no one in America doubted his views on the red menace. His anti-communism dated back 30 years and included his starring role on the Alger Hiss case in Congress.
His tough Senate campaign in 1950 against liberal Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas included the memorable charge she was "pink right down to her underwear."
Nixon's conduct forever tainted him with many Americans, but his anti-communist bona fides helped make him Ike's vice president. By 1967, a year before he was elected president, Nixon wrote, "We simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors."
And his visit in 1972 was indeed "the week that changed the world," as he later put it.
The Reagan example follows a similar path. He could go to the Soviet Union and make dramatic arms-control agreements because he had proven to the American people and to the Soviets that he would stop at nothing to protect our nation.
His muscular policy included a huge military buildup around the globe and putting American missiles in Europe to counter Soviet aggression. His anti-communism rhetoric was consistently clear and tough, from his 1983 "Evil Empire" speech to the 1987 challenge in Berlin to "tear down this wall."
It is surely a hopeful sign Obama had the courage to cite Nixon and Reagan in Oslo and recognize their historic achievements. It would be infinitely better if he would follow their example and win the peace in our time through strength.
After all, even Alfred Nobel made weapons and created dynamite before establishing his peace prize.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and a Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column,click here.