Barack Obama's splendid Nobel Prize acceptance speech is winning praise from surprising quarters: Republicans. But their compliments are rather back-handed, that the speech which challenges European pacifists and embraces the "just war" doctrine could have been given by George W. Bush. Not hardly. Obama made a definite distinction between his administration's policies and those of the Bush administration:
"Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. (Applause.) And we honor -- we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard."
He also spoke of the influence of the non-violent philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi on his views towards peace. He quoted King's Nobel acceptance speech from 1964:
"Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones."
Obama added: "As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King."
Those were not words that George W. Bush could have, or would have uttered.
Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of the Nobel Committee, explained that Obama was chosen for the award because of his commitment, and early steps, to unwind the worst policies and abuses of George W. Bush’s presidency. He pointed to Mr. Obama’s embrace of “multilateral diplomacy,” his offer to negotiate with Iran, his decision to ban torture, his efforts to revive arms control negotiations and address global warming. “President Obama is a political leader who understands that even the mightiest are vulnerable when they stand alone,” Mr. Jagland said.