U.S. President Barack Obama has accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize with an address focusing on ethics in wartime and strategies for peace.
Speaking Thursday in Oslo, Norway, Mr. Obama said war will never be "eradicated in our lifetimes." He said there will be times when nations will be compelled to fight just wars. As examples, he noted how the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and said the use of force was justified in the Balkans in the 1990s on humanitarian grounds.
Mr. Obama said that for more than six decades the United States has "helped underwrite" global security," and he said that commitment will not waver. The president also acknowledged the irony of receiving an award for peace just days after committing 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
But he said the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida was justified to protect the world against terrorism and extremists. Mr. Obama cited the failure of some countries to uphold human rights, and said peace is "unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely." He said improving human rights reduces the possibility of war, but also entails "painstaking diplomacy."
He cited the late U.S. President Richard Nixon's China diplomacy of the 1970s, saying it helped set China on a path where millions of people were "lifted from poverty and connected to open societies." Turning to the environment, the president said true security cannot exist where people lack access to adequate food, clean water and medicine.
He urged action on climate change, saying "if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement" that will fuel new conflict for decades. The president and his wife Michelle went to the Nobel Institute on arrival in Oslo, where he signed the guest book and viewed photographs of past Peace Prize winners.
Mr. Obama says he will donate his prize money, about $1.4 million, to charity.