Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama Accepts Peace Prize with War Speech

Okay, so let's stipulate up front that it is a little weird to give a peace prize to the president of a country actively involved in two ongoing military conficts. That being said, while a lot of people are sifting through the transcript, looking for the objectionable bits, I thought this part about the importance of diplomacy and the incremental nature of bringing about change was good.
Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – and condemnation without discussion – can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

...There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
And I liked this third point a lot. Wish more world leaders would recognize that economic security is an important component of any peace process.
Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
I don't think that can be overstated. Looking at history, so much of what drives war seems to be a quest for material goods like land and control of natural resources, in order to ensure economic prosperity for the conquerors. I've always believed we could end wars if those who had more than they need were more willing to share their wealth with those who don't. I'm only sorry that the strategy going forward is still going to be bombs -- not bread. You can watch the video here.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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