US presidents were humble

Obama's response is modest

Is it just polite modesty that drove Barack Obama to such a humble acceptance speech in the direction of Oslo - or also a hint of criticism of the Nobel Prize Committee? The rhetorically highly skilled statesman Obama does not have to answer this question. One thing is certain: In his brief address in the rose garden of the White House, the US President said that he was "surprised and deeply humbled" at the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. And then Obama added: "To be honest, I don't feel that I deserve to stand in line with so many design personalities who have received this award."

Obama said he saw the award not as an appreciation of his own accomplishments, but rather as a call to action to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is a confirmation for the US to take the lead on pressing problems such as climate change, nuclear disarmament and the Middle East conflict. He stressed that every country must take responsibility for peace. No nation and no president can do this alone. However, some tasks would not be able to be accomplished during his term of office.

The reasons for honoring Obama

The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awarded Obama the prize for his "extraordinary efforts" to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Very rarely has a single person been able to attract the world's attention and give people hope for a better future, as Obama has done. The committee paid special tribute to Obama's vision for a world without nuclear weapons. It also praised Washington’s new relationship with the United Nations and the commitment of the new US administration to climate protection.

The prize is endowed with one million euros. The surprising award ceremony for Obama comes just nine months after he took office. It was received internationally with a lot of applause, but also with skepticism.

Obama's policy

Obama became the first black US president in office on January 20. The 48-year-old Democrat announced, among other things, the closure of the controversial Guantánamo prison camp in Cuba. At the UN General Assembly in New York in September, he launched an initiative on nuclear disarmament. He threw the plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe completely overboard. He is also breaking new ground with his stance on Iran and his efforts to establish a dialogue with Islam. In a speech in Cairo in June he advocated a new beginning in relations with the Islamic world. "The cycle of suspicion and discord must end," he said, pleading for listening, learning and respect on both sides.

Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in person at the award ceremony on December 10 in Oslo.

Author: Martin Schrader (ap / dpa / epd / rtr)

Editor: Oliver Samson