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Journal for Peace and Justice Studies

Volume 22, Issue 1, 2012

Brian T. Kaylor
Pages 58-73
DOI: 10.5840/peacejustice20122214

Words Must Mean Something
Barack Obama’s Rhetoric and the Nobel Peace Prize

When the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced United States of America President Barack Obama as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, many commentators quickly questioned the choice. Conservatives in particular argued that Obama had not yet accomplished anything to warrant such recognition. Such remarks promoted a perspective that creates a dichotomy between words and action, between rhetoric and policies. However, this rhetorical analysis considers four important rhetorical acts by Obama that involved more than just words but actual progress toward peace. The four speeches by Obama analyzed are his inaugural address, his address in Prague on nuclear weapons, his speech at Cairo University, and his speech to the United Nations. Implications are considered concerning the importance of scholars examining peace rhetoric.