World

Obama picks up Nobel Prize

Just over a week after announcing an increase in U.S. troop strength for the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama picked up his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
U.S. President Barack Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from Nobel committee chair Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday. ((Susan Walsh/Associated Press))

Just over a week after announcing an increase in U.S. troop strength for the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama picked up his Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday.

Following the awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Obama's acceptance speech touched on war and security.

Addressing the issue that the award may have come prematurely, Obama acknowledged that compared with past recipients — including Nelson Mandela, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Schweitzer — "my accomplishments are slight."

He also cited those who have been jailed in pursuit of justice, or those who work for humanitarian groups to relieve suffering.

"I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honour than I," Obama said.

He said the most profound issue over his receipt of the prize is that he is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces at a time his country is fighting two wars.

"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."

While he acknowledged he holds his current position of president thanks to the civil rights work of past prize-winner King, who championed non-violence, Obama said he cannot be guided by that example alone.

"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," he said.

"For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism; it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

Last week, Obama laid out his plan to send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan. He also said he would begin withdrawing troops from the country in 18 months.

Protesters have seized on the fact Obama is getting the peace prize during wartime, and they are planning an anti-war demonstration. Posters with the image of the U.S. president and the word "Change?" are up around Oslo.

Obama's trip to Europe will be brief, as he is due back in Washington, D.C., by midday Friday.

With files from The Associated Press

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