Announcing a major expansion of the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the swift deployment of 30,000 troops would be enough to break the Taliban before the soldiers begin coming home in mid-2011 – a bet he is making because the U.S. cannot afford a drawn-out, costly campaign.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, who has pledged to place diplomacy ahead of confrontation in world affairs, won the Nobel Prize for Peace on Friday, a remarkable and controversial honor for a leader nine months in office. Obama, as if acknowledging the unusual nature of the award, accepted it “as a call to action” rather than as a reward for past accomplishments. “This award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity,” Obama said at a Rose Garden appearance. The gold medallion given to recipients of the prize does not come with a ribbon, but the award could end up being a weight around Obama’s neck. Intended to honor how Obama has altered the nation’s diplomatic direction, the peace prize is likely to call attention to how much of the administration’s agenda – from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay to winding down the war in Iraq – remains undone. The prize also poses political risks for a president routinely depicted by Republicans as more focused on seeking international approval than defending the security interests of the United States. That criticism could be compounded if Obama rejects the military’s request for an additional 40,000 troops in Afghanistan. Mindful of such perils, the president sought to downplay the significance of the Nobel, describing it as a “means to give momentum” to causes that others also embrace, and saying, “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve” it. The award undoubtedly carries benefits.