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Obama is no Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : US President Barack Obama does not consider himself in the same league as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, but would nevertheless address critics who question his fitness for the Nobel Peace Prize even as he fights wars in two countries.

He may even pick up a few thoughts from Mahatma Gandhi as he gets the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 in Oslo Thursday but would focus on why he sees no contradiction in authorising a 30,000 troop increase in Afghanistan and accepting the peace prize.

“…the president will address the notion that last week he authorised a 30,000- person increase in our commitment to Afghanistan, and this week accepts a prize for peace,’ White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday.

“The president understands and again will also recognize that he doesn’t belong in the same discussion as Mandela and Mother Teresa,” when asked if Obama would feel any embarrassment upon accepting a peace prize when he’s escalating a big war.

“But I think what the president is proud of is the steps that this administration has taken to reengage the world; that through that reengagement we see some of that reengagement is to bring increased peace and stability to this big planet,” Gibbs said.

“And he is proud that the committee recognised that this nation has once again re-emerged and engaging the world in greater pursuits,” he added.

Asked if the peace award fitted with Obama’s thoughts and ideas as he was also a believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of peace and non-violence, Gibbs said: “…Certainly he’s been asked if he could gather thoughts from those that walked on this Earth before him.”

“There are a number of people, including Gandhi, that obviously he’d be interested in getting their thoughts on,” he said. But “I don’t think that’s addressed specifically tomorrow.”

Obama’s Nobel Prize win, announced in October, elicited swift reaction- some hailing the choice; others asking what he had accomplished to deserve it.

Obama, the first African-American to win the White House, is the fourth US president to win the prestigious prize and the third sitting president to do so. December 10 is the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and founder of the prizes.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])