The full text of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech is here.
The White House admitted that Obama approached the speech with two particularly troublesome issues in mind. The less interesting was his obvious undeservedness of the award, an issue which Obama swiftly and concisely swept aside - as he had done in his first speech on the topic in America - by simply agreeing with the criticism and promising to attempt to live up to an honor prematurely bestowed upon him. For those who find ample evidence for scrutinizing Obama's narcissism, this was an occasion of public humility which served him well.
The second issue was the seeming paradox of a war-time president, in the midst of a troop build-up, receiving a prize for peace. On this front, Obama was far more surprising. If not downright hawkish, Obama was at least far from pacifistic. Midpoint through the speech, NRO's Daniel Foster noted: "This is starting to sound pretty....neoconservative. With a nod, of course, to multilateralism."
Naturally, Obama's speech was not perfect and provided moments of liberal prejudice. By way of omission, he specifically excluded the present war in Iraq from his list of just wars. And while praising the "great religion" of Islam, he equates Christian crusaders to terrorists and claims that "no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint - no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one's own faith." Rather unwarranted assertions, I think.
Nevertheless, the substance of the speech was serious and direct. Obama spoke of human nature, Just War Theory, humanitarian intervention, realism vs. idealism, the limits of discourse and his role as a political leader. With a few minor tweaks, this oration could have been spoken by Dick Chaney at a Tea Party rally.
In fact, the speech proved far more aggressive and assertive than has been the actual conduct of this administration. Obama has been criticized even from the left for his docility in foreign policy - until the "surge" in Afghanistan, of course. Perhaps this defining speech provides an insight into a disconnect between Obama's logical thinking and instinctual reflexes on foreign conflicts - as well as which of the two most commonly determines his ultimate course of action.