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Speak No Evil

December 28, 2009

by John B. Judis
from The New Republic

The lines most cited in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech were those about evil: “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 may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism–it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

These lines won approbation from both liberals and conservatives. Former Clinton aide Bill Galston praised them as an example of Obama’s “moral realism.” According to neoconservative Bob Kagan, Obama didn’t “shy away from the Manichaean distinctions that drive self-described realists (and Europeans) crazy.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said the lines marked the speech as “very American.” “He didn’t speak as kind of the citizen of the world, as sometimes he has in the past,” Gerson added approvingly. more

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