He courageously set forth the principles of just war before those who had assembled to give him a peace prize.
The president boldly acknowledged America's very real enemy, Al Qaeda, in a move rarely heard from him prior in public addresses. His remarks also rectified his failure to mention any leaders besides himself in his remarks for the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In doing so, President Obama exhibited humility and grace as he noted the achievements of leaders like Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Pope John Paul II, and Lech Walesa in his Nobel address.
President Obama failed in just one key area in his otherwise impressive address. Once again, he proved himself ignorant of history and embarrassingly sycophantic when it comes to the history and nature of Islam.
In the very same week in which five American Muslim men were apprehended in Pakistan for intent to wage jihad, President Obama offered these words that so often sprinkle his messages:
“Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded.”
President Obama loves to reference the Crusades as his one Christian parallel for the modern-day Islam of massive religiously-inspired violence. He could not be more wrong. Were Obama to read distinguished Cambridge historian Jonathan Riley-Smith's The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, he would find an excellent account of what happens when Islam expands it reach and what is required to thwart it.
Riley-Smith helpfully counters the modern misconception that Christians attacked Muslims in the Crusades without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them.
All the Crusades met the very criteria of the just wars in which President Obama sought to ground his Nobel speech. They came about in reaction to attacks against Christians or the Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 to defend against the recent Turksih conquest of Christian Asia Minor as well as the earlier Arab conquest of what until then had been the Christian Holy Land.
The second Crusade developed as a response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third resulted from the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and a number of other Christian lands in 1187. In each case, Christians went to war to defend Christians, to combat the attackers, and to rectify egregious wrongs.
President Obama continues to show a lack of history education as he likens the Crusaders to the Muslim jihadists. That ignorance is unacceptable. One would hope that in an Ivy League education that included undergraduate years at Columbia and law school at Harvard, the President would have had access to a non-politically correct reading of history. It appears not.