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The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

By James Baldwin

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Obama’s Peace Prize Speech

Posted on Dec 10, 2009
White House / Pete Souza

(Page 2)

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together.  Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this 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—all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.


Square, Site wide
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations—acting individually or in concert—will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” 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.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: 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 may sometimes be 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, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But 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. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest—because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

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, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths—that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations—strong and weak alike—must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I—like any head of state—reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait—a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America—in fact, no nation—can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves.  For when we don’t, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

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By Sepharad, December 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment

ardee, thanks for not being as lazy as me, and getting all those stats. Easy to see why FDR had to be so careful in how he phrased and shaped this aid ... all those billions in any other form but the expectation of some payback would have shocked the Congress into full big-chill mode.

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By ardee, December 16, 2009 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

Stalin noted, at Yalta, that the Roosevelt “lend lease program of 1941” may have been his most significant achievement. Of course Stqlin chose to keep such aid a secret from his own people….

more such:

Lend-Lease (Public Law 77-11)[1] was the name of the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, France and other Allied nations with vast amounts of war material between 1941 and 1945 in return for, in the case of Britain, military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and the British West Indies. It began in March 1941, over 18 months after the outbreak of the war in September 1939. It was called An Act Further to Promote the Defense of the United States. This act also ended the pretense of the neutrality of the United States. Hitler recognized this and consequently had his submarines attack US ships such as the SS Robin Moor, an unarmed merchant steamship destroyed by a German U-boat on 21 May, 1941 outside of the war zone.

A total of $50.1 billion (equivalent to $759 billion at 2008 prices) worth of supplies were shipped: $31.4 billion to Britain, $11.3 billion to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion to France and $1.6 billion to China. Reverse Lend Lease comprised services (like rent on air bases) that went to the U.S. totaled $7.8 billion, of which $6.8 billion came from the British and the Commonwealth. The terms of the agreement provided that the material was to be used until time for their return or destruction. (Supplies after the termination date were sold to Britain at a discount, for £1.075 billion, using long-term loans from the U.S.) Canada operated a similar program that sent $4.7 billion in supplies to Britain and Soviet Union.[2]

This program is seen as a decisive step away from American non-interventionism since the end of World War I and towards international involvement. The Americans demanded that this rent be settled, and it took until 2006 for the UK government to settle its debt to the USA.[3]

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By Sepharad, December 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment

firefly, got most of my information on this from Churchillian memoirs—he was a more interesting man than just about any other statesman at that time—but will check what you say elsewhere.
I really didn’t think ‘40 was the beginning and end of the Brit’s war, but if I’m wrong will say so.

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By firefly, December 15, 2009 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment


The Lend-Lease under which the U.S. supplied Britain, the Soviet Union, China and France with vast amounts of war material was between 1941 and 1945. Incidentally, Britain has only just finished paying off this crippling debt to the US which was one reason America became so rich and consequently a superpower.
The Battle of Britain took place during the summer and fall of 1940 (i.e. BEFORE the US entered the war and BEFORE the lend-lease act). The British won their war WITHOUT the help of the U.S. And the British would NOT be talking German, if the U.S. hadn’t come into the war. That is just another one of those misguided, egotistical, narcissistic fallacies that the U.S. loves to spread around the world about itself.

Sorry to burst your bubble there.

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By DieDaily, December 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

FRTothus, that is a fantastic MacArthur quote. Both he and Patton were aware of the underlying causes of all modern wars (the international banking and industrialist elites). The hinge pin of all of our foreign policy problems (and most of our domestic ones, come to think of it) is to expose and eradicate their behind-closed-doors manipulations. Looks like Ron Paul got his audit bill through congress as an amendment. Let’s all support it in the Senate! With the Fed neutralized, the sky is the limit. Eradicate all fractional reserve financing the world over and so ends all large-scale warfare. Let’s do it!

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By FRTothus, December 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Though I cannot find who said it, it bears repeating that there was never a just war, nor an unjust peace.  All I could find was this quote from Cicero:
“An unjust peace is better than a just war.”

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” (Dwight David Eisenhower)

“From such beginnings of governments, what could be expected, but a continual system of war and extortion?” (Thomas Paine)

“War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Indeed, it is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.” (Douglas MacArthur)

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By Sepharad, December 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

firefly, you’re looking hard for arrogance but won’t find it here. The Battle of Britain would probably not have been won without the American Lend-Lease Act. Churchill, when all seemed lost, publically rallied his peope to keep their spirits up even as he urgently appealed, directly and frankly to FDR, who saw the British as heroically fighting the Nazis while the rest of Europe caved in. FDR believed that if Britain were overrun, which was seeming more and more a possibility, America would have to fight the Nazis alone. Faced with a still largely isolationist Congress, FDR and Harry Hopkins came up with an end-run concept—the Lend Lease Act—and went directly to the American military to get needed aircraft as well as weapons to England in time. America benefited from this because it caused factories to be built that would be needed by America when she entered the war after Pearl Harbor. Britain fought well, but were hard pressed from all directions—not just the Luftwaffe over London but also Rommel in North Africa and the Japanese in Burma as well as other parts of the Commonwealth empire.

IchLiebeSie—I agree with you that the punishing and unfair Versailles Treaty was the root cause of Hitler’s success in gaining the German people’s support for the Nazi regime, but don’t quite follow your logic leading to the possible future of America being occupied “and soon” by another country. Which country do you have in mind the an occupier?

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By IchliebeSie, December 15, 2009 at 12:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

This is one of the most - if not THE most - bizarre quotes from Barack Obama he has ever uttered since being President of the USA.

Aside from the most inappropriate forum to say this, aforementioned quote demonstrates his inabilty regarding the “recognition of history”.  For me, this requires a two-part response:

1)  When Obama stated that “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.”  This could have been possible if those being occupied (the people of central Europe), and ON PURPOSE by the occupiers (France), have received what it asked for - nay DESERVED - before the Nazis even came into existence.  Adolf Hitler’s response to all of this, even the birth of Nazism itself, was very natural; albeit extreme - given central Europe being occupied for roughly 125 years by France.  The Treaty of Versailles merely rubbed it in the faces of those occupied as punishment for their supposed feeble attempt to resist France!  Now, compare this scenario to how the USA reacted to an incident that lasted a mere fifteen minutes.  Given all this, I wonder how the USA today would react if they were forced to be occupied by another nation for an indefinite period?  This just may happen - and soon!

2) “Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”  How do you know this, Mr. President?  You are able to predict the future?  Wow!  You know what though, Mr. President?  You are probably right in this regard - despite the policy of “We do not negotiate with ‘terrorists’”.  However, how can you tell an al-Qaeda affiliate by the way he looks, despite the most accurate intelligence available?  Al-Qaeda affiliates exist all over the world!  Thus, it stands to reason that, rather than falling into their trap (e.g. the USA military excursions of Iraq and Aghanistan - which costs the majority of USA citizens a FORTUNE), Mr. Obama would DEFEND the USA.  I hope the USA will not, from this day forward, choose actions that would possibly make terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, likely to respond the same way.

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By Samson, December 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Fascinating in that this speech takes exactly the same policy as Bush’s, but just dresses it up in different words.

Obama’s given Bush’s wars for world domination a facelift, that’s all.

The surface looks new and improved, but underneath, we are still fighting in Iraq, escalating the war in Afghanistan, starting a new war in Pakistan and still threatening to attack Iran ... all exactly the same policies as Bush’s .... but now with a new coat of whitewash…. or maybe with Obama its beigewash?

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By firefly, December 14, 2009 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


You’ve proven my earlier point, about American arrogance and their often total distortion of historical facts.

Sepharad: “England would have fallen, the occupied countries such as Norway and France would have immediately come under fascist rule. The British and French empires would have become part of the German empire. China and Mongolia, Burma and the Pacific islands, possibly even Australia, would have come under Japanese rule”

The Battle of Britain 1940 was successfully won by the British with NO HELP FROM THE US.

In the summer of 1940, the German Luftwaffe attempted to win air superiority over southern Britain and the English Channel by destroying the Royal Air Force and the British aircraft industry. This attempt came to be known as the Battle of Britain, and victory over the RAF was seen by the Germans as absolutely essential if they were eventually to mount an invasion of the British Isles.

The Germans had overrun Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France in May 1940, using the Blitzkrieg (‘Lightning War’) technique that relied, among other things, on close coordination between ground troops and the air force. Although the Luftwaffe proved very competent in this role, it was not trained or equipped for the longer-range operations that became part of the Battle of Britain.

It is widely believed that had the Germans succeeded in their aim of destroying the RAF, they would have been able to invade Britain relatively easily. This was, after all, at a time when the country was the only European power resisting Nazi Germany, even though she did enjoy massive support from her Commonwealth partners.

The Soviet Union did not enter the war against Germany until June 1941, and the United States didn’t get involved until December of that year. It was this state of affairs that lay behind Winston Churchill’s famous speech to Parliament on 20 August, right in the middle of the concerted German air attacks on southern Britain, in which he said, ‘Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.’

Although the fear of a German invasion was real, it was perhaps unfounded, however, as German plans were in fact somewhat amateurish - when planning the air attacks they made the mistake of regarding the Channel as a relatively minor obstacle, little more than a wide river crossing. In addition even if Hitler had achieved his aim of destroying the RAF, Germany might still have failed to establish a foothold after any invasion, because the British Royal Navy was enormously strong, and very capable of repulsing German troop ships………

Sepharad: “The Japanese raped Nanking and literally turned citizens of Mongolia into heroin addicts, but that, like the atrocious Japanese prison camps where torture and abuse and starvation was routine, is usually overlooked since the atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.“

Yes, I’m fully aware that a total of 20 million Chinese died during WWII and I have not in any way justified what the Japanese did. In fact, it also proves my point AGAINST war. But murdering Japanese because they murdered Chinese, just makes murderers of Americans. To this day, America is the ONLY country to have ever used such evil weapons against humanity.

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By ardee, December 14, 2009 at 3:51 am Link to this comment

bogglesthemind, December 13 at 8:05 pm

Thank you for citing the words of my dear friend, High School Valedictorian of my graduating class, and mentor in many things both political and otherwise.

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By bogglesthemind, December 13, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

Are we there yet?

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes
you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part,
and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the
levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”  ~Mario

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By Outraged, December 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

Re: ardee

” and thus is worthy of being ignored by me forthwith.”

Promises…. promises….  We’ve heard that before, but here you are, yammering on again…. and directing it towards me.  Really though “ardee”, its sad that you find it so difficult to address the deeper aspects of any topic.

Additionally, what do you mean by this comment, “Next you will trot out your having read that I said I was born in Yemen,”?  Does this mean you were or were not born in Yemen?  Not that that would necessarily be here nor there, but it seems odd that you enter the premise into the “discussion”......

Remember when you said that I said you were gay and then…. after VEHEMENTLY DENYING being gay, you said that there’s wasn’t anything wrong with being gay?  Hmmmm….. I’m not understanding that.  Anyway I didn’t say you were gay, I said you were involved with the widow from Transylvania….. remember?  I only said that for someone who had eliminated their lucrative position to drive a utility truck wasn’t very bright, not the sharpest tool in the shed or whatever idiom applies.  Why do you mix these things up so…?  Btw, did you like the video from worldfocus?

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By Virginia777, December 13, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

or maybe he was referring to Tiger Woods, the other black Muslim…

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By Virginia777, December 13, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

people, since we have mentioned Hitler, check out this commentator from Fox Nation, who is advocating for Obama to be sent to the gulag:


(exactly why it is destructive to Obama-bash)

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By ardee, December 13, 2009 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

Btw, the “truth as you see it” leaves something to be desired

Speaking of leaving something to be desired, one must comment, and for the last time I promise,that outrage has lied purposely and repeatedly regarding my words, shown no moral fiber in failing to rescind his lies, and thus is worthy of being ignored by me forthwith.

Go play in your litter box with the Shrew and GRYM,its exactly where you belong.

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By DieDaily, December 12, 2009 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

gerard, you portray Obama as a beleaguered hostage of the White House being crushed between the jaws of big money and big military. I encourage you to consider that is very unlikely, to say the least. Public opinion, in the end, places limits on the powers of the political machine, and Obama could as easily have swung the masses into a time of peace and prosperity instead of what he did…which was to become the biggest war monger in our history and outspend all previous administrations combined—all in his first year, no less. I would like to see the evidence that he not the willing puppet of Wall Street and the banks. He has thus far spent about 1.6 million in court fighting various lawsuits which have attempted to gain access to his birth and immigration documents. We don’t even know who’s money it is. To me the evidence is clear and was clear well before his inauguration from the hawks and hammers he placed in his administration. It’s a total travesty. The biggest fraud in our history by far.

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By Virginia777, December 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

don’t give up on Obama yet, Jean Gerard, compromise with overwhelming corporate and military and political power has been a must for now, but his term is not over.

That said, unless the Left mobilizes (which it has not) and stops throwing tomatoes at Obama from its “couch” (if you are going to throw tomatoes, might I suggest Fox News as a much better target?)

we really are doomed.

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By Outraged, December 12, 2009 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

Re: ardee

Your comment (if it could be called it that): “Because I defend the truth as I see it you, in your infinite uselessness, and demonstrative only of your own loneliness and lack of friends ( get an actual personality, it might help), accuse me of something or other.Now it is that I am Taliban, what a maroon you are.

You fail utterly to understand that your truth is not the only truth, that your position is not the only position, and that your defense of fascism and murder makes me sick..

How about someone else’s truth then, “ardee”?  This video from worldfocus explains.

Btw, the “truth as you see it” leaves something to be desired.

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By Robert, December 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“I wonder why you seek to continue the myth of Taliban participation in 9/11? It is, after all, them we fight in Afghanistan, not those who financed or planned the attack on that fateful day.”

I said nothing about the Taliban. 

Bin Laden and his followers are based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Nobody said they were Taliban..

The Taliban controlled the areas where Bin Laden and his followers trained and plotted.  They did nothing to stop it, and refused to hand them over after 9/11.  Therefore, our warring with them is/was totally justified as far as I’m concerned. 

I did not support the war in Iraq.  I have always supported the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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By ardee, December 12, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Outraged, December 12 at 9:43 am
Al Qaeda has integrated with the Taliban, did you not HEAR?

I have not heard, in fact I know them to be separate and distinct, other than as host and guest and similarly radicalized religious based groups, despite your childish temper tantrum response ( as per usual). But then your response was not engendered by any urge but that of sophomoric stupidity and revenge for my excposing you as a defaming liar in another thread and another issue.

Next you will trot out your having read that I said I was born in Yemen, or some other slimy but quite in character response.

Because I defend the truth as I see it you, in your infinite uselessness, and demonstrative only of your own loneliness and lack of friends ( get an actual personality, it might help), accuse me of something or other.Now it is that I am Taliban, what a maroon you are.

You fail utterly to understand that your truth is not the only truth, that your position is not the only position, and that your defense of fascism and murder makes me sick. The Taliban has never, not once, publicly declared a goal or objective on any but a local scale. That alone exposes you for what you are and your position for what it is..

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By Outraged, December 12, 2009 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

Re: ardee

Your comment: “I wonder why you seek to continue the myth of Taliban participation in 9/11? It is, after all, them we fight in Afghanistan, not those who financed or planned the attack on that fateful day.”

Al Qaeda has integrated with the Taliban, did you not HEAR?  Al Qaeda WAS responsible for the 9/11 attacks, did you not hear?  Why is it “ardee” you are ALWAYS so pro-Taliban?  Let’s be clear…. Al Qaeda HAS made proclamations asserting financial jihad on the west, but that is not all.  They’ve also taken RESPONSIBILTY for many bombings around the world including the U.S.

From Wiki:
“In 1996, Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan from Sudan. He came without any invitation from the Taliban, and sometimes irritated Mullah Omar with his declaration of war and fatwa to murder citizens of third-party countries, and follow-up interviews but relations between the two groups became closer over time, and eventually bonded to the point where Mullah Omar rebuffed its patron Saudi Arabia, insulting Saudi minister Prince Turki and refusing to turn over bin Laden to the Saudis as Omar had reportedly promised to earlier.

Bin Laden was able to forge an alliance between the Taliban and his Al-Qaeda organization. It is understood that Al-Qaeda-trained fighters known as the 055 Brigade were integrated with the Taliban army between 1997 and 2001.”

It is certainly with merit that your erroneous comments should be QUESTIONED, in fact… I wonder who’s side your on….  Then again, its not the first time you’ve “double-clutched” without VALIDITY.

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By nancyser, December 12, 2009 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

I don’t know what you are talking about. When ever he comes on my tv or radio, I can’t change the channel fast enough. My blood pressure shoots up every time I hear his voice.

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By ardee, December 12, 2009 at 3:49 am Link to this comment

As if indeed…  I mean, those rag-tag guerrillas planned and carried out the murder of over 2000 people on 9/11.  Imagine the president trying to eliminate that threat..  How unjust!  How terrible!

I wonder why you seek to continue the myth of Taliban participation in 9/11? It is, after all, them we fight in Afghanistan, not those who financed or planned the attack on that fateful day.

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By MarthaA, December 12, 2009 at 1:42 am Link to this comment

We may be able to get out of Afghanistan if we will make certain the Afghan Government has a Code of Military Justice and abides by that code, otherwise our endeavors in Afghanistan to raise up an army for Afghanistan’s defense is an impossible task, as the following video clip expresses:

If there is no Code of Military Justice in Afghanistan by their government for the Afghan Military for punishment for the above type of actions, then it is a waste of time trying to train Afghan soldiers, and the USA should leave. If peace is the goal, peace can not be obtained without the Afghan Government’s help so that American troops will never be subjected to having to raise an army out of only the worthless of the Afghan nation.

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By KDelphi, December 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

was the prize given to ghandi or MLKJr. in “hopes that they would earn it”? NO…it was ridiculous.

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By Sepharad, December 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

firefly, of course we have no way to know exactly what might have happened had America not intervened militarily (or even economically, as in the Lend-Lease act, the refitting of aircraft for Britain etc.) Hitler won the war. We can make a few guesses, however, based on the state of things before Pearl Harbor brought America in.

England would have fallen, the occupied countries such as Norway and France would have immediately come under fascist rule. The British and French empires would have become part of the German empire. China and Mongolia, Burma and the Pacific islands, possibly even Australia, would have come under Japanese rule. I think there are books on this subject if you want details. (I’ve never read these “what-if” tomes—can barely keep up with history and current affairs as it is.)

Concentration camps were largely justified by Hitler as one of the most vital ways to rectify the punishing Versailles Treaty’s effects on the German people. He wanted to empower the Aryan race and destroy and/or enslave the non-Aryans such as Slavs and other races he deemed subhuman and unfit for Germanic society; to eliminate the parasite Jews (including those with medals for service to Germany in WWI), confiscate their wealth which belonged to the German people, murder them, and conduct medical experiements on them as well as subbhuman Poles and gypsy parasites—including gypsy men with army service records in the Reich). In short, he wanted to restore Germany to greater and well-deserved glory that had been stolen from them by the rabble.
He was just doing a bit of social engineering, tilting the scales a bit in favor of the Aryans.

He took Austria and Poland with very little effort—it didn’t become a war until Britain finally objected to further incurions on Europe. It stopped being a winnable war after he attacked Russia, which country drew him on and on, deeper and deeper, but the Americans certainly shortened it. 

What the war did do was enable him to drag in inmates from still other countries to fill the camps. For the added expense of maintaining the camps, his ministers and bureaucrats discovered large revenue sources from the property and businesses of Jews from all over Europe, from the loot and hair and skin taken from the camp prisoners, etc.

Wars are murderous, hateful enterprises however logical, however reasonable or right. The Japanese raped Nanking and literally turned citizens of Mongolia into heroin addicts, but that, like the atrocious Japanese prison camps where torture and abuse and starvation was routine, is usually overlooked since the atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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By Amon Drool, December 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

a couple days before obama’s oslo speech, a piece by conn hallihan (“An Af-Pak Train Wreck”) started making its way thru the intertubes.  if u prefer informed (methinks) analysis to skilled rhetoric, check it out

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By prole, December 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

“President Barack Obama acknowledged the controversy of his award, ‘the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars’”…but didn’t acknowledge of course that neither one of them is a ‘war’ at all, but that both, like so many others, are unilateral acts of aggression. If he had made this simple, yet crucial distinction, all the rest of the 4000 empty words would have crumbled into dust. It may only be a technical nuance now to protest that congress has never formally declared war on these two countries – how could they, what have they ever done to us? – since congress has twice again as they have so often in the past, given their de-facto approval, and more importantly full funding to these military adventures. Obama himself voted for every single funding bill for these foreign crusades while in the senate, despite dissembling about having been against “the war” during the presidential campaign, (as did his chief opponent and new Sec. of State). Nothing he has done subsequent to buying the Oval Office, should come as any surprise. Still, it’s important to to remember that these are executive actions and that chickenhawk Barack has largely adopted the Bush doctrine for himself. All that has changed is that the rhetoric clouding it has been polished up a little.  So now “Professor Obama was on full display.” “At times he sounded like a humanitarian’s humanitarian”….but more often like a war criminal’s war criminal. “World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.”…as is Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc.
  “It’s difficult, given” historical continuities, “to take in Obama’s speech without providing one’s own soundtrack. ‘Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it.’” So where did we go wrong in Vietnam? “I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.” Choose their own leaders? Like Hamas in free and fair elections and get bludgeoned to death for it? “I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds. ...” But if not, we can always find some other grounds. “But it was also, as we’ve come to expect from Obama, a great” scam. “Toward the end, the president offered this insight into the human condition, including his own: ‘Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil.’” What “law of love”, dumping cluster bombs and white phosphorous on starving peasants?  Dropping a blockbuster bomb on an apartment building in Gaza City? The tragic fact is: “we make mistakes” and they “fall victim”. Even that is too generous. “We” don’t make “mistakes”, we make pre-meditated humanitarian catastrophes. The“temptations of pride, and power, and… evil” are the law of the jungle, the law of that great law professor and Nobel War-Is-Peace Prize winner, Barack Obabbler.

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By Sepharad, December 11, 2009 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Robert, I cannot believe that you and I are in agreement, but that seems to be the case. To your concise post, I would only add that Obama delivered perhaps the first completely honest speech, short on self-regard and preening and long on articulating the truth, before the comfortable, complacent audience hoping for words from the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to make themselves even more comfortable and complacent. That the applause was weak and sporadic should be taken by our President as a great compliment.

I’d begun to think I’d made a terrible mistake voting for Obama, but if he can continue with such honesty and pragmatism, maybe there’s hope for this country yet.

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By the waiver, December 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

We have a President who shines and speaks precise!  It is hard to explain why we think “WE CAN” win in Iraq and Afghanistan!  The word “MUST WIN” doesn’t insure “WE CAN WIN”—-especially when the Joint Chief of Staffs asked for 40,000 troups over 9 months ago—-and just now is getting 16,000 troups and next your the rest of the 32,000 troups promised.  Instead of going in like a lion, our troops are being sent in a piece meal which isn’t fair to any soldier!  It isn’t fair to the family nor is it fair to our Country!

Speaking about the need of Afghanistan—-speaking about the need to recognize the dangers around us—-breaches in Security under this Administration has far exceeded any prior Administration—-Homeland Security’s breach about TSA Procedures is giving the enemy an advantage.

When one of the planners of 9-11 is brought back to New York becaue Obama and the US Attorney believe this is fair—yet they weren’t in New York when the planes flew into the Twin Towers—-Even back then Obama didn’t come on the scene and view first hand what had been done to America—-the people yelling and screaming—burning alive trying to escape the debri—-America was at her best—-President Bush’s first comment after the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were hit—THE FIRST THING PRESIDENT BUSH DID WAS TO ASSURE THE FAMILIES THEY WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF—THEN HE ADDRESSED THE TERRORISTS!

The one promise that President Bush made was:“NEVER AGAIN” and for the next 7 years—-NEVER AGAIN WAS KEPT!

I didn’t agree with all of President Bush—but I have always voted for man who would best keep America on track.  So—I have voted for Democratics and Republicans—but I am to the point with PELOSI_REID_and this President on health care and their motto YES WE CAN—YES WE CAN—INSURE EVERY AMERICAN—-YES WE CAN—-NO THEY ARE NOT!





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By firefly, December 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The jury is still out on whether going to war with the Nazi’s made the loss of life greater or not. How can we ever know what would have happened if war hadn’t been declared on Germany?

What we do know, is that once under attack, Germans who were hostile to Hitler, then rallied around him (much as Democrats supported Bush after 9/11.

We also know that war made it easier for Hitler to create the concentration camps that he would not have been able to build during peace time.

Finally, I am sick and tired of America’s constant and inaccurate belief that the US won the war. It didn’t. The allies did and the US was just one of the allies. The war would not have been won by any one single country. Russia, Britain and France each played a huge role in the defeat of Germany. It was Russia that first liberated Berlin from the Third Reich, NOT America.

I don’t believe in evil either. Was the bombing of Pearl Harbor evil? Was Hiroshima and Nagasaki evil? I’m sure the victims families on both sides would say yes. But evil is relative. America can’t pretend to always be on the right side. Every time one of its drones blows off the arms and legs of an innocent child, that is evil.

Therefore, fighting ‘evil’ itself causes evil acts and is evil. As one commentator said, Obama failed to mention the root causes of war. On the one hand, you have poverty and extreme injustice. On the other, you have pure unadulterated greed.

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By jean Gerard, December 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a tragedy to see a fundamentally good guy brought down by the powers of
money and influence.  We voted, and Obama walked into the lion’s den and the
lions are now licking his bones.  We should be weeping, not thinking up clever
insults and throwing rotten tomatoes.  And beyond the weeping? 

These are our problems now, for sure.

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By Robert, December 11, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You people are nuts..  It was a brilliant speech and the philosophy is sound.  The idealism of non-violence is simply not possible with humans, and peace through strength is the best road to prosperity. 

His policy is right on as far as I’m concerned. 

Someone here said:

“as if you could compare Nazi Germany, at the time a world military power, invading and conquering Europe with the US fighting rag-tag guerrillas in the Middle East. “

As if indeed…  I mean, those rag-tag guerrillas planned and carried out the murder of over 2000 people on 9/11.  Imagine the president trying to eliminate that threat..  How unjust!  How terrible! 

I haven’t appreciated everything he’s said or done since being elected, but I’m behind him 100% on this one. 

As for the claim that Bush could have given this speech… Nah….  he never would have said it was necessary for the nations of the world to act together.  That the US couldn’t do it alone.  He never would have placed the emphasis on the importance of working within international law..  And, he never would have been able to articulate it. 

Obama is not the anti-Christ, as some of you seem to make him out to be (or the equivalent in whatever dogma you are enslaved to)..

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By samosamo, December 11, 2009 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

o was selected to be the next president in the 2008 elections because he IS a
neocon but with dark skin hiding out as a democrat(thus keeping either one of the
‘facade of the 2 party system’ in the white house) and being a false ‘promise’ and
being ‘black’ or malacca made it infinitely more easier to get him elected without
the noticeable fraud and tricks that w & dick had to use in 2000 and 2004 and to
boost his chances all that ‘dialing for dollars’ was icing on the cake and not a soul
was weary or privy to this except those who actually witnessed his guaranteeing
his and OUR governments support of corporate america and the american izraeli
public affairs committee.

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By konnie, December 11, 2009 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

Zemanel, i agree with you totally. i was just speculating on one aspect.  But from one of the
excited hopeful voters I cannot express how disappointed we are that our dreams of a caped crusader swooping in and fixing all the wrongs of the
past have been dashed by a “politician”. we heard in his speeches what we wanted to hear. Reality has
set in, as you can see by falling numbers, and
splintered democrats.

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By zemanel, December 11, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

As a folk from across the pond, I would like to clarify this sides position.
Mr Obama was awarded the prize, NOT because of his skin colour, weight, social standing, TV channel he watches, income, sports he plays or any other non important item.
He was awarded the prize with the hope by all Europeans, that he would change the way we are heading in. It was, apparently not a clear one,  a message of hope in the upcoming future.
Alas it was a waisted one, has being honest nothing has changed.
If Mr Obama, when he took office or at the speech in Chicago had asked the world to join him in seeking peace and resolving all our differences, if after he had given the world concrete evidence of change, then everyone on this planet would have followed him blindly. I just have to mention the success of his European tour and the crowd at Berlin. Every European expected the man to be true to his word and frankly take us out of this never ending cesspool that we so gallantly keep on marching into.

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By konnie, December 11, 2009 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

i’d like to insert a more reasoned approach to why
the president was awarded this prize: in my opinion
the folks across the pond voting right after the
american election did not award the prize specifically to a man for something he had DONE. but
more for the SYMBOLISM HE REPRESENTED.  and yes i am
talking about being black.  The peace prize was not for Obama as much as it was for the FINAL MATURING
of the american citizenry.  That we the people had
traveled far enough from the times of slavery to elect a black man. that we the people deserved the
prize for peace between the races in america. Except
as we can see that hasn’t exactly been embraced by
everyone…...I just think that this should have been
considered by the msm, and the president should have
acknowledged this meaning in the granting of this
prize to him.

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By Fritz Strand, December 11, 2009 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Most of this speech could have been given by any British Prime Minister any time between 1840 and 1950.

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By JohannG, December 11, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Obama gives a good speech. Even if what he says sometimes does not make much sense. His Presidency is the triumph of marketing over substance. Here some of the more glaring inconsistencies I noticed when glancing through his words:

“First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior—for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. 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.”

The Israeli annexation of Palestine and the building of settlements on such annexed territories are illegal under World Court ruling, i.e., International Law. So is Israel’s building of the Wall that divides part of the West Bank. Wonder what consequences Israel faces for these and many other transgressions against the rules of law, mentioned above by President Obama.

The invasion of Iraq by the U.S. was in violation of international law. Such violations apparently do not have any consequences for those who commit them. A sure recipe for repeat performances. Is not the the use of un-manned drones to assassinate human targets in territory (Pakistan) belonging to a country NOT at war with the U.S. considered unlawful. Does Obama have any ideas what “laws” he is referring to here?

“For make no mistake: 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 may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

This clever bit of rhetoric equates our current adversaries to Hitler and tags them as “evil”. Thus our adversaries do not have ANY legitimate grievances or motivations; they are simply evil, end of story. Hence whatever we do to them is justified. That is exactly the kind of thinking we need to avoid.

For domestic consumption, Obama dutifully mentions movie actor Ronald Reagan for his “efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika [that] not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe.” But Obama fails to mention the much more important role that Mikhail Gorbachev played by patiently dealing with not-too-bright RonaldReagan and Reagan’s hawkish military advisors.

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By Purple Girl, December 11, 2009 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

And instead of hearing from the Left- “Let US help in recruiting Civilians to aid in this new stradegy”...Pres Obama will hear the deafening silence from his fair weathered ‘supporters’ unless of course they are able to pull the Brie and wine out of their mouths for a moment to bitch- as usual.
It’s time for the Anti War movement to offer up something more than lipservice.
Put up or Shut up!

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By camnai, December 11, 2009 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

“We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.”

So true. And you don’t get them back by just saying that you aren’t going to
torture any more. A good reputation is lost much, much faster than it is regained.
It will take decades to restore what Bush/Cheney threw away. What’s our
guarantee the U.S. won’t start torturing again when the Republicans get back in?

And Afghanistan didn’t attack the U.S. on the 11th of September 2001. This is not
a just war, especially when you remove a government (an unpleasant one, I agree)
and give the country back to the warlord mafias who made that government look
like a good idea in the first place.

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By Outraged, December 11, 2009 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

Quote: “Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations—total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred.  In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.”

These words will be quoted to time immemorial by many and to many Peoples.  These are words of change and the resultant actions they will necessarily produce and the reality that they necessarily address, will be mete out…. by all The Peoples of the World.  Words are not simply “words”.... they have meaning.

Some say that all past leaders’ words “have meaning” as if ONLY dead people are serious people.  I do not think so.  I sense that Obama’s words do have all the meaning of Eisenhowers.  And if Eisenhower had had the opportunity to give a platform to all the Peoples of the World at that time like we do today, what a different world we might be living in.

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By KDelphi, December 10, 2009 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

If Dubya had given this speech, neo-liberals would be condemning it as Cold War rhetoric..shame on my grandmother’s home country and to the kids chanting “yes we can” in the streets? Go join the fricking Marines…if the Europeans like Obama so mcuh (they dont know who he is) they should adopt his war mongering, poverty inducing, neolibcon policies…give up your natl health care and free university educations to join the world’s greatest ever war machine.

Comfortable USAns can praise his lofty, phony speeches till hell freezes over..or they can join the military and fight Obama’s wars.

What in the world are you people thinking?? I mean, I never bought this guy, but, I have never, ever, in my life, seen a political party trash such a huge historic opportunity in my life. Shame on the Democratic Party.

Everybody who voted for him—go sign up for the Marines. Or send your own fricking kids and grandkids.

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By Ouroborus, December 10, 2009 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is
strength.” (George Orwell, 1984)

And once again; Obama said we were attacked from
Afghanistan on 9/11.

What is left when truth no longer has a place in our
day to day world?

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By idarad, December 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment

When I think of all the people who have sacrificed, truly given their lives to find a way to bring peace, acceptance, and understanding in this disparate world, it is shameful to have given a peace prize to the war criminal. Unfortunately for the Nobel, its is not the first time they have made this mistake, and undoubtedly won’t be the last. Disgraceful!

Virginia 777 - at some point you gotta breakout of the lovefest you have for this war criminal. The day of his inauguration he was using drones to kill innocents in Pakistan…that is terrorism by its definition!

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By Mary Ann McNeely, December 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

Read Matt Taibbi’s latest if you want to find out what kind of lowdown lying thief, scoundrel and swindler Obama really is.

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By LostHills, December 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

“Great speech?”  Desperate attempt to justify the indefensible is more like it. That
speech could have been delivered by George Bush, word for word. No more
excuses accepted for this stooge and poser. 2012 - anyone but Obama.

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By CJ, December 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Here’s a link (if I did this right) to a transcription of Chomsky’s speech, given at West Point in April of 06, demolishing Just War Theory.

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By samosamo, December 10, 2009 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

By montanawildhack, December 10 at 8:22 pm
““The people there should have walked the hell out of there when he compared al
Quida to the Nazis and Hitler… Kind of like comparing an atom bomb to a blow
gun… More bullshit….”“

Would it be any more difficult for an audience there to be ‘select’ than anywhere
the ‘elitist’s’ crown jewel will pull his slick tongue out to ‘soothe’ the obedient

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By ardee, December 10, 2009 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

I almost feel sorry for President Obama in his attempt to justify an award for peace while he promotes and sanctions war. But I will reserve my sorrow for those who will die needlessly in our attempt to do the impossible.

I would ask if I am the only one sick unto death of a certain poster who attributes everything including the rotation of the planets to “Zionist influences”?

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By Tenzing, December 10, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“War”: 44 times

“Peace”: 31 times

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By montanawildhack, December 10, 2009 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

Total and complete bullshit… Period….

The people there should have walked the hell out of there when he compared al Quida to the Nazis and Hitler… Kind of like comparing an atom bomb to a blow gun… More bullshit….

This speech proved one thing… Obama is now completely in the Zionist fold…. 

And 42 other countries are involved and Israel isn’t one of them…. They’re smart as hell… They just start wars, they don’t fight in them…. Smart people them Israelis….. Dumb stupid bastards them Americans….

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By Smudge Martens, December 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

“But it was also, as we’ve come to expect from Obama, a great speech.”

When George Bush spoke, his motivations and goals were obvious. He couldn’t hide behind the slick words or subtle manipulation. That’s why Obama’s words must be more critically analyzed than Bush’s stumbling idiocies.

How often do self-identified liberals defend Obama on the grounds that, “at least he’s a great speaker and a true intellect.”

Neil Postman told us 25 years ago that we’re “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” That’s why Obama is our current president and Palin may make a credible run in 2012. We live in the land where style always trumps substance.

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By NYCartist, December 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Chutzpah award to Obama for Chanukah.  It’s Human Rights Day, too.  The right to shelter, food, education, work, safety….
See the faces in the Oslo room, with Obama, and listening, in a segment on DemocracyNow.  Not happy faces (altho Michelle Obama looked moved as did one administration face I recognized).  Yuk.

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By Virginia777, December 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

I can’t stand the build-up, yet I think that Obama deserves the prize, he is faced with such huge challenges, first and foremost, how dismantled every single social justice initiative is in our country, the racism that is Everywhere.

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By Howie Bledsoe, December 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Double plus good.

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By samosamo, December 10, 2009 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

This guy is making a mockery of the u.s. and the world which really makes me
believe the norway is a piece of crap for a country or at least the nobel prize
needs to change its awards around to ‘honor’ criminals that way o would really be
deserving of a nobel prize, BUT DEFINITELY NOT A PEACE PRIZE, oh, w & dick
should have been a part of that prize.

I don’t know but that russian missile test sure was a clever thing being done on
o’s fraudulent day of wonder where norway just had to be paid to give this horrible
‘leader’ any kind of prize at all except for being the best corporate dingleberry
picker alive.

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By Commune115, December 10, 2009 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

Obama sounded like a typical imperialist. I’m tired of pro-war camps using WWII all the time, as if you could compare Nazi Germany, at the time a world military power, invading and conquering Europe with the US fighting rag-tag guerrillas in the Middle East.

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