Obama Should Make the Case for Peace Through Strength, Experts Say

As President Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Thursday – a week after announcing a surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan - he should make the case that peace is sometimes won through the application of strength, two former presidential advisers said.

"I think he'll have to talk about how the definition of security and of peace have to be broader, that sometimes you have to fight in order to secure the peace and security of the American people and of the world more broadly," Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Clinton told CBS' "The Early Show".

Dan Bartlett, former counselor to President George W. Bush, agreed, saying Mr. Obama "has to articulate to the entire world that peace comes through strength, that we have to project our power unfortunately at times in our history in order to protect the peace."

The awkward juxtaposition of a wartime president winning one of the world's most prestigious awards in his first year in office prompted Bartlett to joke that Mr. Obama should have had the peace prize "Fed Exed to him at the White House."

The president will travel to Copenhagen following the award ceremony to attend the United Nations climate summit. But back at home, the still-weak economy has eroded much of the popularity Mr. Obama enjoyed at the beginning of the year.

A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds the president's approval rating has dropped to 50 percent, the lowest it has been since he took office.

The country's double-digit unemployment rate is the main culprit, Myers said.

"It's tough to maintain a high approval rating when 3 million people have lost their jobs on his watch. And [it's] not his fault, in my opinion. But I think you need to continue to try to focus on the economy and try to focus on job creation."

Bartlett said the president has "lost the narrative on the economy and he has put too much irons in the fire" – referring to the climate summit and the months-long health care battle.

"He needs to come back and focus on jobs, job, jobs. And stop talking about things that make people anxious about jobs, whether it be a massive health care bill, whether it be the climate change bill."

However, as the president's overall numbers have declined, public support for the war in Afghanistan has risen, with 51 percent in favor of the troop surge and 43 percent opposed.

"The public wants to be in a fight that they know they can win and there's a strategy to win," Bartlett said. "What they don't like is when they believe that their kids and men and women are over there and potentially dieing in vain. And what they heard from the president last week is that we have a strategy … so I'm not surprised that there's a bump in support. I think it's a good sign for this president, a good sign for our countries."

  • Daniel Carty

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