- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

Antiwar Democrats on Capitol Hill are bristling at President Obama’s remarks about the need to wage “just wars” in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize last week in Oslo, though the president’s speech garnered rare praise from conservatives.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, a leading critic on the left of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Friday that the president’s musings about the inevitability of war and “war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace” threatened to lead the United States into more bloody conflicts.

“Once we are committed to ‘war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace,’ we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where war is peace, where the momentum of war overwhelms hopes for peace,” said the Ohio Democrat.

“Once we wrap doctrines perpetuating war in the arms of justice, we can easily legitimate the wholesale slaughter of innocents,” he said. “War is often not just; sometimes it is just war.”

Organizers of an antiwar rally Saturday near the White House called Mr. Obama’s Nobel speech “repulsive.”

“I don’t think he knows the meaning of peace,” said Laurie Dobson, director of End U.S. Wars, a coalition of peace activists participating in the rally. “He is dangerously out of touch with what the average American thinks peace is all about.”

Mr. Obama’s Dec. 1 announcement that he is dispatching 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan has upset antiwar Democrats, a key component of the party base that fueled Mr. Obama’s election victory. His Nobel acceptance speech Thursday in Oslo only inflamed opposition to the surge.

In the speech, Mr. Obama focused on the paradox that peace often is achieved only through the horror of armed conflict, defending the United States’ history of military excursions as campaigns to safeguard “freedom and prosperity.”

“A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies,” Mr. Obama said. “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.”

The Lafayette Park rally was called to demand an immediate U.S. cease-fire in Iraq and Afghanistan, the start of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, and an end to U.S. drone missile attacks and covert military operations in Pakistan.

“If the president does not meet these demands, we promise intensified opposition, with antiwar candidates prepared to defeat his war policy,” said an End U.S. Wars press release announcing the demonstration.

Mr. Kucinich and a host of peace activists, including three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, were among those recruited to address the rally.

Mr. Kucinich, who says the U.S. war in Iraq was based on “lies” and the war in Afghanistan is based on “flawed doctrines of counterinsurgency,” last week announced plans to force a House vote on a resolution calling for a timely withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Mr. Obama’s Nobel address won praise from conservative figures, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“I think having a liberal president who goes to Oslo on behalf of a peace prize and reminds the committee that they would not be free, they wouldn’t be able to have a peace prize, without having force I thought in some ways it’s a very historic speech,” Mr. Gingrich said in an interview on National Public Radio.

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