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President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

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President Barack Obama responds to his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday morning at The White House.

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Obama advisers have described his foreign policy as based on "mutual interest and mutual respect," and on the idea that global diplomacy functions on the principle of "rights and responsibilities" of sovereign nations. The speech in Prague was one of four major addresses this year in which he has discussed those themes.

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Those include his June "new beginning" speech to the Muslim world in Cairo. The next month, he gave an address to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra, in which he assured Africans of U.S. support but reminded them they were ultimately responsible for their future. Last month, he told the U.N. General Assembly that he was "well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world."

In announcing Obama as the winner -- to gasps of surprise -- in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, the committee noted that his "diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

"The committee seems to have been saying, 'We had eight years without strong U.S. leadership for peace and now we have someone who will put the country's energies behind Middle East talks and nuclear arms control,'" said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian. "I think this will lift Obama's prestige and may make it easier for him to avoid escalation in Afghanistan."

In his Rose Garden appearance, Obama said that "we have to confront the world as we know it today." He said he is "the commander in chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies." Hours later, he gathered his national security staff members to continue deliberations over whether to expand the war effort in Afghanistan, where 100,000 U.S. and international troops are on the ground.

Although President Hamid Karzai sent Obama a congratulatory note, others in Afghanistan were dismayed he was given the prize.

"What is this for? Please show me which peace?" asked Roshanak Wardak, a member of parliament from Wardak province. "The Americans are killing 75 Pashtuns a day in Afghanistan. For this they give a prize to Obama? They should call him a criminal."

The breadth of domestic opposition to the choice suggested a resentment that could undermine his ability to carry out some of his most ambitious foreign policy goals.

In Afghanistan, Obama will probably need Republican congressional support if he decides to send additional combat troops, a move much of his own party opposes. Michael S. Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that "it is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights."

Axelrod said: "In Washington, things often get sliced and diced, and I'm not surprised that's happening here. I'm also not particularly concerned by it."

Asked whether the criticism threatens Obama's domestic and foreign policy agendas, Axelrod said: "I don't believe that those who think winning the Nobel Peace Prize is a political liability are likely to be supportive of what the president is doing anyway."

The two previous sitting U.S. presidents who won the prize did so in their second terms in office. Theodore Roosevelt won in 1906 for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese war, and Woodrow Wilson won in 1919 for founding the League of Nations and helping frame the post-World War I peace. Jimmy Carter, who as president brokered the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, won the prize more than two decades after leaving office.


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