Dr. Cornel West spoke at the Central Library in Los Angeles Friday, Oct. 9, and weighed in on what winning the Nobel Peace Prize will mean for President Obama.
The Princeton University professor and civil rights activist pointed to Obama's position as commander in chief of the armed services and the tension that the award places on the president. "It's gonna be hard to be a war president...I think it's very difficult for any head of an empire to be under the pressure of peace. 'Cause you're head of the largest military in the world, you got over a thousand military installments on the globe, you got ships in every sea. It's very difficult," West said.
Dr. West talked about how the peace prize might affect Obama's handling of torture. "It's going to be difficult to have a peace prize and not investigate folk who have been torturing other people," West said.
In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate torture by CIA employees and contractors during the Bush administration.
Click here to listen to Dr. West's remarks. Below is a transcript of Dr. West's comments. He will be a guest on next week's Tavis Smiley Show.
"It's gonna be hard to be a war president with a peace prize. Gonna be difficult. Very, very difficult. And so I think he knows that and we as fellow citizens have to, um, as brother Tavis would say in his wonderful book Accountability, keep him accountable and loving and self critical, not self-righteous way. I think it's very difficult for any head of an empire to be under the pressure of peace. 'Cause you're head of the largest military in the world, you got over a thousand military installments on the globe, you got ships in every sea. It's very difficult. And I think following brother Martin King, we know that peace is not the absence of conflict, peace is the presence of justice. So They go hand in hand. Thank god for Hebrew scripture, Amos is no joke. Connected.
So now the whole world is watching, saying, what are the ways in which as president, you will be a promoter of justice here at home for poor people, for working people. So jobs can't be an afterthought to your economic policy. But you all get my point. It becomes a challenge now, you see. It's going to be difficult to have a peace prize and not investigate folk who have been torturing people, you see. It's going to be difficult having that moral authority in office and the tension that goes along with that, you see.
So my response is congratulations, celebration, and I wish your precious mother and father were around. I wish your grandparents were around to see it, that just died. And yet the challenge becomes now even more intense, you see!
You think of Nelson Mandela and Martin King, Ralph Bunch. What a standard! Whew! But then I also recall Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger won the peace prize too. De Klerk won the peace prize too, so we gotta pray for our brothers and sisters in Sweden sometimes. But for the moment, we all ought to celebrate and help our dear president."