President Barack Obama will accept this year's Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo this morning, tackling head-on the paradox in his receiving the accolade just 10 days after committing an additional 30,000 US troops to the war in Afghanistan. The presentation in Oslo City Hall will be seized by the President as an opportunity to articulate, if he is able, how pressing forward with two wars is compatible with his wider vision of breaking down walls with dialogue and co-operation.
While the award was extended to Mr Obama in part on the basis of his series of soaring speeches, for instance on banning nuclear arms and reconnecting America with the Muslim world, his speech this morning may be the hardest one successfully to pull off.
It hardly helps that attitudes domestically to his having won it at all are hardly favourable. A new national poll by Quinnipiac University shows that barely a quarter of Americans think he deserved the prize this year. As many as 41 per cent, meanwhile, say they think less of the whole Nobel Prize system because of Mr Obama's selection.
He faces criticism from human-rights groups, who question why he deserves the prize because of what they see as his uneven commitment to their cause. While he was quick to end torture by the CIA and to order a close of Guantanamo Bay, he seems to have avoided criticism of Chinese repression and of Iran's response to riots after this summer's presidential elections there.
Aides say Mr Obama began crafting his Oslo speech two days after delivering his address on expanding the war in Afghanistan. For guidance, they said, he read past Peace Prize acceptance speeches given by figures such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.Reuse content