Reporter's Note: President Obama gave a big speech about war and peace (the subjects, not the novel) as he accepted his Nobel Prize. I have not been given any medals but have some thoughts on the matter anyway in my daily letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
That was a crackerjack speech, I must say! You know that I don’t just mindlessly applaud all you do, and lately, I’ve thought that you were kind of losing your touch, what with those rather pedestrian addresses about health care reform and all, but this one was spot on the money. Presidential, well-thought out, easy to dance to…I’ll give it a ten, Dick!
But seriously, I really thought it was marvelous, not only for the beautifully chosen words and phrases, but for the depth of the thoughts as well. Acknowledging the controversy over the Nobel Prize being awarded to you right from the get go was a masterstroke. It not only robbed your naysayers of the right to criticize so sharply, but in a strange way formed an alliance with them, by making it clear that you too have doubts about your worthiness so early in your presidency. Speaking freely too about the international eyebrow raising that, in some quarters, surrounds any military action by the United States was also a fine approach.
But most importantly, I was impressed by your ready and forthright statement that military power is not something that is inherently bad or to be damned as antithetical to peace. I have always told my daughters to respect others, avoid conflict whenever and wherever they can, and yet I say, “When somebody punches you in the nose, you are in a fight whether you want to be or not.”
You are right: There are evil forces in the world with which we sometimes simply can not negotiate. The philosophical problem with groups like Al Qaeda is that their terms for peace do not include our existence. We could not surrender to them if we wanted to without marching ourselves wholesale into the sea. I have spent many hours listening to the radical rants of terror leaders and they make it abundantly clear that their dream of the world is not merely one in which they live their way and we live ours; too many of them truly want everyone wiped off of the planet who does not cleave to their ideology. They speak only the language of force, and they will take Armageddon over compromise. If that sounds crazy, frankly, I think it is. They are. And just as the insane gunman who decides to shoot up a school must ultimately be shot down himself, there is ultimately no answer to such folks as these but war.
I wish it were not true. I pray for the day when war ceases to be. And I have great respect for people who believe that war can never be the instrument of peace. But I believe history has proven them wrong. War is terrible. War is inhuman. War is to be avoided as much as possible. But as long as people are greedy, violent, power-hungry and willing to kill for what they want on a grand scale, war is also inevitable.
You said it beautifully. That was a speech to be remembered.
Get some sleep. The travel must be tiring. Call when you can.
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