On December 1, 2009, President Barack Obama gave this historic speech at West Point. While we disagree with the concept of “just war”; we do live in a troubled world, and we understand that we cannot simply withdraw all troops from Afghanistan; to do so would bring more chaos and death to this troubled region of the world.
In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama made his position clear; while we desire peace and brotherhood with all, we cannot shrink from our responsibilities. The following three paragraphs from this historic speech bring us great sadness, yet the inherent truth in these words cannot be denied:
“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations—acting individually or in concert—will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
“I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago—”Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak—nothing passive—nothing naïve—in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
“But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”
Let these words remind us that we must continue and strengthen our efforts to do all we can to bring peace to this troubled world; we must work harder to bring economic justice, education, housing, clean water, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, and medical care to all the people of the world. If each one of us does all that we are capable of towards meeting these goals, we can bring peace to the world.