I was fortunate enough to be able to write this article for the Arthur Burns Fellowship alumni newsletter. To see the whole newsletter click here. (Opens in a new window.) For just my article, keep reading…
The transformation of sleepy Oslo to fortified Nobel host city was tangible. There was anxiety on the sidewalks as citizens walked carefully by concrete barricades, policemen with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs—all in place for the arriving VIPs. Even manhole covers were welded shut as a security measure—the official sign that a U.S. president is or has been to a city.
Following a sobering speech by US President Barack Obama, my colleagues at Westdeutscher Rundfunk wanted my analysis and impressions from Oslo. Here is the interview in German. Translation and transcription by Katie Ganzer also provided.
As a journalist I like to think my view on life is influenced by a variety of sources, ideally giving me enough information to responsibly and accurately inform my audience. Experiencing something first-hand is often one of the most powerful ways to report a story. As I sat on the streets of Oslo after President Obama had left, I drank an apple juice, and watched life continue as before the Nobel ceremony, the reality of the previous 2 days set in—I had witnessed something truly historic…for better or worse.
In Oslo, Norway today President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. His acceptance comes on the heels of Mr. Obama’s still controversial nomination by the Nobel committee, awarding the prize to a world leader whose country is still fighting two wars. The normally sleepy city of Oslo turned overnight into the frontline of a debate over war and peace. From Oslo, Tony Ganzer reports.
TG: Though the bells from Oslo City Hall rang a familiar sound, the city streets were drastically changed for the arrival of Mr. Obama. Chain link fences, concrete barricades and police with machine guns lined most streets. Even before Mr. Obama arrived in Norway Greenpeace began handing out fliers urging Mr. Obama’s action on climate change. But in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize Mr. Obama spoke directly to the criticism of his award.
Obama: …my accomplishments are slight“ :20
Mr. Obama listening to his introduction during the peace prize ceremony.
TG: Mr. Obama’s peace prize was awarded for his efforts on climate change, nuclear proliferation and diplomacy, according to the Nobel committee. This prize has attracted increasing attention in recent days after Mr. Obama announced 30-thousand more American troops would be deployed to Afghanistan. Though Mr. Obama underscored his support for diplomatic solutions to conflicts, he defended the option of armed conflict.
Obama: …and the strength of our arms“
TG: Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appeared briefly after the ceremony to wave from their hotel balcony at a crowd. A mixed group of demonstrators with varied interests gathered nearby, holding signs urging an end to the war in Afghanistan, and US action on climate change, among other things. Mr. Obama will leave Oslo tomorrow morning, after spending just 26 hours in the country.
President Obama isn’t here yet, but the city is breathing anticipation–not all of it positive. For 99 Norwegian Crowns one can buy an Obama t-shirt with “Hope” across the bottom, and for 0 Crowns one can enjoy Greenpeace’s characteristically aggressive campaigning for environmental issues.
So in just a few hours the President will board Air Force One and begin his 26 hours in Oslo, to accept a controversial and arguably confusing peace prize, just days after ordering the deployment of 30-thousand more American troops to Afghanistan. This is an uncomfortable time; an insecure time; and this is the time in which we live.