Monday, December 14, 2009


Yet another example this week of sometimes the best way to deal with an elephant in the room: by grabbing it firmly by the tusks. U.S. President Barack Obama went to Oslo to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize, the object of considerable controversy ever since it was announced. The irony of accepting the award on the heels of sending 30,000 more American troops to war in Afghanistan was not lost on the commander-in-chief, so he wisely (in my view) decided to make absolutely no bones about it. “I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy your generous award has generated,” he said right off the top. And he went from there to expand upon – and position his current actions in the context of – the notion of the “just war,” and the idea that sometimes the use of military force is the only way to achieve and/or maintain peace. “Evil does exist in the world. 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,” Obama said. It was a dramatic repositioning of his view of the two wars he finds himself in charge of – to the point that the speech won kudos from conservative critics including the likes of Newt Gingrich. Grabbing the pachyderm by the probiscus can sometimes be the shortest route to credibility and strongest possible impact of one’s message.

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