Barack Obama's Peace Prize acceptance speech started off humble, sounded kinda defensive, and it even got, weirdly, a bit Bush-y. But on the whole: it was pretty damn good!
No one really remembers Nobel Prize acceptance speeches. Not even King's, which Obama quoted a couple times. And this one probably won't go down in history, but it was terribly smart and occasionally lovely, and we're inclined to agree with James Fallows that it "will probably seem better, on re-reading and with the passage of time...." Reading the transcript is probably more edifying than watching it.
So. The humble bit sounded genuine. The defensive bit was funny.
But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
"Including Norway" is not quite as bizarrely memorable a piece of odd Presidential justification as "you forgot Poland," but we will make an effort to quote it mockingly in our foreign policy coverage from now on. Even NORWAY, people!
Here is the president laying out the incredibly unrealistic conditions of a "just war":
The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.
Yeah those are all kinda impossible to meet to everyone's satisfaction.
Because George W. Bush so brazenly co-opted the utopian rhetoric of liberal internationalists, no current politician can speak of the courage and heroism of those who protest oppressive regimes without unintentionally evoking that jackass in all his smirky vainglory. Though Bush only ever talked about the nations he was actively interested in messing around with for strategic reasons. Obama brought up Burma and Somalia and Zimbabwe. (And, look at that, climate change.)
The crazier right-wing critics are basically grasping at straws in their attempts to find fault (it was a "lecture," he didn't count the GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR as one of the wars he is waging, actual psychopath John Bolton is mad that he said he "prohibited torture") but that is to be expected.
Not-great video of the speech is on Youtube if you'd like to watch it.