President Barack Obama went to Oslo, Norway, 10 days ago and told Nobel Prize peaceniks what they didn't want to hear - that "the instruments of war have a role to play in preserving the peace." I commend our young president for describing a dangerous world as it really is and not as the Nobel selection committee wishes it to be.
"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," Obama told stunned listeners, who expected to hear a standard boiler-plate denunciation of war. Speaking just one week after ordering 30,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan, Obama said bluntly that evil exists and that it must sometimes be met with force.
Remembering his Kansas grandfather, who served with Gen. Patton in WWII, Obama reminded a skeptical European audience that "the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms ... I'm the commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars (and) am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed." Such honesty is highly commendable.
At the same time, Obama agreed with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that "violence never brings permanent peace," and he praised institutions like the Nobel Committee that are devoted to preserving peace without conflict. "(But) a non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies," he added. Amen.
"Awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize after so short a time in office and so few concrete accomplishments was a mistake that diminished the credibility of the honor," the liberal Los Angeles Times opined. "But this address was a blockbuster even by Obama's lofty standards ... (and) should serve as a blueprint to guide international decisions on alleviating conflict, poverty and tyranny."
I'm among those who believe that President Obama won the Peace Prize because he's not George W. Bush. As Walter Russell Mead of the centrist Council on Foreign Relations commented, "If Bush had said these things the world would be filled with violent denunciations. When Obama says them people purr. That's fine by me." Me, too.
There's a double-standard at work here as audiences - both domestic and foreign - give President Obama the benefit of the doubt. That's acceptable, however, as long as our president recognizes the vital importance of defense and national security. That's exactly what he did in Oslo, and I applaud him for it. Merry Christmas!
• Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.