On Thursday, 10 December 2009, US President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, paying tribute to activists who have taken on governments around the world while uncomfortably acknowledging his role as a leader at war. Obama's elevation to a pantheon of winners alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King before he has even spent a year in office has sparked international criticism.
Obama is only the third sitting president to win the prize and he has been closely questioned about his credentials in Oslo, particularly after his decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. A wartime president honored for peace, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in 90 years and the third ever to win the prize -- some say prematurely. In this damp, chilly Nordic capital to pick it up, he and his wife, Michelle, whirled through a day filled with Nobel pomp and ceremony.
And yet Obama was staying here only about 24 hours and skipping the traditional second day of festivities. This miffed some in Norway but reflects a White House that sees little value in extra pictures of the president, his poll numbers dropping at home, taking an overseas victory lap while thousands of U.S. troops prepare to go off to war and millions of Americans remain jobless.