In his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize this week in Oslo, Norway, President Obama noted that “we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes,” but he also expressed “fundamental faith in human progress” that one day, humans will not have to resort to violence to resolve disputes:
OBAMA: But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
For if we lose that faith — if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace — then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.
Conservatives of all stripes praised Obama’s speech. Newt Gingrich called it “historic,” and Charles Krauthammer said it was “his best speech” he’s given on foreign soil. But there’s one right winger that refuses to sign on. Last night on Fox News, John Bolton explained why he thought it was a “pretty bad speech” that was “sort of at high school level”:
BOLTON: He says we have to acknowledge the hard truth we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. Well, no kidding. You know, homo sapiens are hard-wired for violent conflict, and we’re not going to eliminate violent conflict until homo sapiens ceases to exist as a separate species. And the whole notion you could even think about eliminating it not just in our lifetime but soon thereafter I think reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature.
Of course, Bolton probably doesn’t have a moral compass to lose. His belief that humans will never eliminate violent conflict does nothing but provide it further justification and offers an insight into why the use of force is always his first instinct. In Bolton’s mind, that’s just “human nature.”