US President Barack Obama accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, acknowledging the controversy over the choice of a wartime president and saying he reserved the right to take action to protect the United States.
“I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labours on the world stage,” he said.
Obama said the use of force was sometimes justified, especially on humanitarian grounds, and in the case of Al Qaeda, negotiations would not cause them to lay down their arms.
He also called for tough action against countries that broke international laws, such as sanctions that “exact a real price.”
Iran and North Korea, which are in nuclear stand-offs with the West, could not be allowed to “game the system,” he said, referring to tactics employed by both countries in the past to draw out negotiations.
He paid tribute to anti-government demonstrators in Iran, Myanamar and Zimbabwe and said the United States would always stand on the side of those who sought freedom.
“We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran,” he said.
“It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.
“And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side.”