Obama Accepts Nobel Prize as a ‘Call to Action’

Posted October 9, 2009 at 11:07am

Updated: 12:28 p.m.

President Barack Obama on Friday said he would accept the Nobel Peace Prize, but he acknowledged the award was not a recognition of his accomplishments but instead an effort to encourage his policies.

“I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee,— Obama said during an appearance in the Rose Garden. “Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,— he said. “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.—

But he said that he would “accept this award as a call to action,— noting that “throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.—

The president said he would use the award to spur his efforts to begin “a new era of engagement— and to stop nuclear proliferation and rid the world of nuclear weapons.

But Obama’s remarks seemed calculated in part to head off criticism that he is receiving perhaps the most prestigious award in the world without having achieved his goals for spreading peace. His Republican foes are already questioning his selection.

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’— Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.—

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered hearty congratulations. “The Nobel Peace Prize is a testament to his leadership and vision and a tribute to American values,— Pelosi said in a statement. “I offer my congratulations to President Obama on this outstanding achievement.—

Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised the selection.

“By ushering in a period of optimism in American politics, President Obamahas become a great source of pride and inspiration for many Americans,— Reidsaid in a statement. “I congratulate the President on this tremendous honor that he hasearned with his dedication to a new type of politics based on hope insteadof fear. I am confident that the President will work to continue to live upthe ideals of this award throughout his term in office.—

Obama also appeared to try to caution that he will have to continue to use U.S. military might, even as he pursues peaceful goals.

“We have to confront the world as we know it today,— Obama said. “I am 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.—