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Quotes from Obama's Nobel acceptance speech

world Updated: Dec 10, 2009 19:17 IST

Reuters
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US President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday. Here are some quotes from his acceptance speech.

ON THE PRIZE

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.

...The most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief 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;

ON TODAY'S CONFLICTS

A decade into a new century, (the) old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.

IN JUSTIFICATION OF MILITARY ACTION

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

...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.

I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions? Not just treaties and declarations? That brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: 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.

...So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another? That no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

ON RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

I believe that all nations? Strong and weak alike? Must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.

...Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention? No matter how justified.

...I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

ON AMERICA'S ROLE AND NATO

America's commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where famine and human suffering join terrorism and piracy. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries? And other friends and allies? Demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries.

ON THE ROLE OF SANCTIONS

Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure? and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles.

ON IRAN AND NORTH KOREA

it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

ON DARFUR, CONGO, MYANMAR

The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma? There must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

ON HUMAN RIGHTS

America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. 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. 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

ON THE ROLE OF DIPLOMACY ...the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach? And condemnation without discussion? Can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

ON CLIMATE

...The world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action? It is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.

ON DISTORTION OF RELIGION

Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan.

...Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith? For the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.