OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama picked up his Nobel Peace Prize Thursday in Norway saying that war is necessary under certain circumstances.
"A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms," Obama said Thursday in Oslo. "To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history."
He added, however, that this notion had to be coupled with another -- "that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy."
Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, spoke about several current security conflicts: those with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and the military mission in Afghanistan, which was prompted by a desire to defeat terrorism there.
He denounced religious extremism, citing the "cruelty of the crusades," adding that "religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam and who attacked my country from Afghanistan."
"Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace but the purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others what we would have them do unto us," he said.
Obama's prize has been criticized by many for his relatively empty record in world diplomacy, and because the United States is entangled in two wars.
The Washington Post wrote the award "has probably spawned more headaches in the White House than pride."
"And now the president and all his men are trying to make the best of a politically awkward situation," it wrote.
Obama in his first year turned around the U.S. position on climate change, called for a world without nuclear weapons, and extended a hand to friends and foes in a bid to engage in diplomacy even with rogue states.
Thorbjoern Jagland, who heads the Nobel Peace committee, said this policy plan deserved recognition.
"Many have argued that the prize comes too early, but history can tell us a great deal about lost opportunities," Jagland said. "It is now, today, that we have the opportunity to support President Obama's ideas. This year's prize is indeed a call to action for all of us."
Experts say the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, where a NATO-led international force is trying to secure the war-torn country and defeat the Taliban, is key to Obama's future record as a peacemaker.
Obama has recently updated the strategy for Afghanistan and earlier on Thursday said he was optimistic that U.S. troops can be pulled out by the summer of 2011.
"We believe we've got the right strategy," he said Thursday in a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. "We believe we can execute the strategy … build Afghan capacity, protect population centers and blunt and degrade Taliban capacity so that beginning on July 2011, we are beginning to transfer responsibility to the Afghan people and the Afghan security forces."