WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama defended the idea of a just war in receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Thursday. “A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies,” Obama said. “Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”
“There will be times when nations will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified,” he said in Oslo, Norway, in a speech that he wrote much of himself.
The address comes a week after Obama ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and called on hesitant allies to send more as well. Nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization likewise pledged 7,000 more troops to the cause.
While Obama – who currently heads two wars – defended the practice, he stipulated that war be waged as a last resort, apply proportional force, and that it keep the number of civilian casualties to a minimum.
He listed the current war in Afghanistan and past American involvement in the Balkans, Korea, and post-war Germany, as noble causes. “So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace,” he said.
After briefly touching on “mistakes we have made,” Obama indicated that the United States, like all countries, should uphold basic ideals of human rights and rule of law when it finds that it must turn to violence. “That is what makes us different from those whom we fight,” he said. “That is why I prohibited torture”
“We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend,” Obama said to applause. “And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard.
He addressed the critical view that many around the world hold of the United States’ position as the world’s sole superpower.
“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,” he said. “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.”
And in what seemed in part like a jab at allies for more troop contributions to Afghanistan, Obama called on other nations to join the United States as “wagers of peace.”
“America alone cannot secure the peace,” he said. “All responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”