Barack Obama’s election as US President in 2008 was greeted with a euphoria unprecedented in recent times, not just from the people of his own country but from people all around the world. The investment of hope placed in him was cemented when in 2009 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his ‘extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’.

The Nobel Foundation added to Obama’s charge, ‘His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.’

Eleven months into his presidency, it would be natural if a man’s ideology had been softened by the realities of responsibility. In this Nobel lecture, Obama balances his responsibilities as commander-in-chief of the world’s sole superpower with his mandate for hope, reconciliation and human progress. Marking the end of a shameful first decade of this century, he draws carefully from his own personal and national history, and sets out a pragmatic manifesto of his global responsibilities and a outlines a promise of a new kind of leadership.

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