PRESIDENT Obama will not have an easy task tomorrow in Oslo when he receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Doubts expressed about his wisdom in accepting the Prize in October persist and nothing that has happened since then can be said to have strengthened his credentials. Nonetheless, the Nobel Peace Prize judges see the Peace Prize as relevant to good intentions and work in progress, unlike the scientific and literary prizes that reward work done. It will be interesting to see how Mr Obama uses the Address he will give tomorrow to what will be a world audience.

Will he repeat the kind of necessarily imprecise rhetoric that won him such adulation in Europe during his presidential campaign or will he offer some kind of progress report on those difficult issues he faces that impinge on peace prospects? A third possibility for Mr Obama would be to reflect on what the first decade of the 21st century has taught the world about intervention by great powers in the other country's affairs.

The Bush vision of bestowing western democracy on countries which have lived for centuries by different governing concepts must surely need revision. Yesterday's bombings in Baghdad showed how vulnerable that country remains six years after the Anglo-American invasion and on the eve of a critical election. Similar doubts hang over the Afghanistan intervention and any response to the volatile situation in Iran may require careful consideration of these issues. Some enlightenment from President Obama would be valuable.


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