What if he had refused?

We discovered the draft of another speech responding to the surprise announcement in a rubbish bin outside the White House. 
Michael Cook | Oct 12 2009 | comment  

Last Friday, President Obama accepted his nomination for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. It was awarded "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". He need not have accepted, and, in fact, there is a precedent for turning the honour down. In 1973 US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lê Ðức Thọ were jointly awarded the Prize after the Paris Peace Accord. However, Lê Ðức Thọ declined it because, he said, there was still no peace in his country. MercatorNet has been leaked an alternative speech which was written while President Obama was deliberating whether or not to accept the award.

Good morning. As you know, I received a surprise phone call not long ago from the Nobel Peace Prize committee. They have nominated me for this year’s award.

I was both surprised and deeply humbled. Sasha and Malia look delighted, although it’s Bo’s birthday today and they are pretty excited about that, too.

But after careful reflection, I have decided to decline this great distinction.

I owe all of you, not just Sasha and Malia, an explanation for this. A Nobel Peace Prize would have been an honour not just for me, or for my Administration, but for the American people. It testifies to this nation’s abiding love of freedom in peace. The American dream is to beat swords into ploughshares and to live in peace with all men and women in the community of nations.

But peace is secured only through vigilance and sacrifice, not idle dreams. It calls for takes patience and endurance. One day without hard words is not peace; one month without crime is not peace; one year without blood shed by our young men and women is not peace.

Let me share with you some wise words from my mother. "Barack," she told me, "good intentions are not enough. What counts is what you do." She taught me -- and Michelle and I are teaching Sasha and Malia -- that you have to work hard to win your medals.

I want my Administration to be renowned for using its power to bring peace wherever tyranny threatens to crush legitimate desires for freedom, wherever the waves of chaos batter the lives of ordinary people. But I cannot, I must not, accept congratulations merely for desiring these noble things.

If I were to accept this award after only nine months in the White House, I would support a culture of entitlement that condemns many to lives of hopeless indolence on welfare rolls. If I were to accept this award, I would support education systems where every student gets an A+, regardless of how hard they work. Our children, and our children’s children, will be competing in a global economy which will not give them prizes for wishful thinking. I want my daughters to deserve applause; I want my Administration to deserve it, too.

In any case, I already have a distinction which means more to me than a Nobel Peace Prize, precious as that may be. On election day last year I was garlanded with the world’s greatest honour: the trust of the American people. While I am your President I need nothing more, nothing at all, to inspire me to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

There is another compelling reason why an incumbent president cannot accept the Nobel Peace Prize. We offer every nation the hand of peace. But if it is refused, if fists are raised in anger and spite against us or against our friends, we must reserve the right to return blow for blow. As President of the world’s most powerful nation, I must not be open to the slander that my country’s hands were tied by a mean-spirited fear of tarnishing my medallion. The five Norwegian parliamentarians who constitute the Norwegian Nobel Committee must not be allowed to oversee America’s foreign policy.

The character of a man is revealed more in what he refuses to do than what he chooses to do. I would be honoured to wear the same medal as President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson and President Jimmy Carter for anointing the wounds of world conflict with the balm of peace. But first, my fellow Americans, together we must pass the test of history.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

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