Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

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This week, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize; world leaders met to discuss climate change and what to do about it; and the Senate continued the health care debate. Host Scott Simon reviews the week in the news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week, President Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize, world leaders meet to discuss climate change, and the U.S. Senate continues their health-care debate.

NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.


SIMON: And Dan, let's begin with the president.


SIMON: In Oslo, where he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, he certainly quoted Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

SCHORR: Uh-huh.

SIMON: But most of what he had to say was more Churchillian. He talked about the necessity of war, sometimes, to secure a more peaceful world.

SCHORR: Yeah, well, it was an interesting speech. You could dismiss it if you really want to by saying thanks, fellas, for giving me the Nobel Peace Prize but, excuse me, I got to go fight my war in Afghanistan. But it's not a humorous thing. Every president, every leader, I guess, goes through some evolution from one time to another about what he thinks about violence. And it goes back a long, long time. But in his case, he first began to talk about dumb wars, being the Republican wars. Then he talked about a war of necessity as president. And now he's gone one step further. Not only is it necessary, but it may well be moral as well. And that debate goes back a long, long time to St. Thomas Aquinas and to others, who had to argue what is a just war that will go on.

SIMON: He said that evil exists and of course, there are a lot of people who still criticize previous administrations for referring to either an evil empire or�


SIMON: �or the source of evil in the world, tear down this wall, that sort of thing.


SIMON: Did this president surprise some of his most ardent supporters?

SCHORR: Well, I think there have been mixed reactions to it. I don't think the most liberal, the ones who don't think we should be involved in Afghanistan in the first place, liked it very much. On the other hand, I think he carved out a new constituency among maybe even Republicans or more conservative people.

SIMON: Speaking of war in Afghanistan this week, Congress heard a lot of testimony from the likes of the U.S. ambassador there, Karl Eikenberry, General Petraeus, Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What's the reaction on Capitol Hill to the president's decision to send 30,000-plus more troops?

SCHORR: Well, they're going through an exercise which they had to go through. Congress says you've left us out of all of this, and now we want to find out what this is all about. And so you get the top-ranking brass coming before Congress and saying exactly what you'd expect them to say, that yes, the president intends to win this war; yes, the president doesn't intend that American troops will stay there any longer than necessary; no, they will not go away while they are still needed. And various versions of that were given by various people with a lot of fruit salad on their jackets, but amount to the same thing. This is what we are doing and this is what we plan to do and hey, fellas, we need some money now to help us do it.

SIMON: Five American men arrested this week in Pakistan. Investigators there say that they were trying to connect with extremist groups.

SCHORR: Yeah. Well, we still know very little about what these people were really up to and what they really were going to do, what they really had done. But as you read the kind of things that they said before they left, you get the impression there's a little bit more of what's going on in which people radicalized themselves through the Internet. We had that with Major Hasan. You read what he had written. He realized that he was getting a lot of his thoughts through the Internet. I think this may be another example of the Internet at work, and these kids with nothing better to do saying, let's go fight against America.

SIMON: Climate-change talks in Copenhagen - what's your impression of how this worldwide confab has been going so far?

SCHORR: Well, my impression is, it's going just about as expected it would go on. You're getting the argument from the developing countries saying, if you want us to do something about global warming, you're going to have to give us more money. That was expected. And there will be a negotiation about how much money the richer countries will have to give the poorer countries. President Obama apparently expects, however, that it will end up with something, which I guess is why he has now decided to go back to Scandinavia, go back to Copenhagen next week, so that he can then be at the end of the conference, embracing whatever comes out of it. There will be something coming out of it -less than environmentalists wanted, more perhaps than some wanted.

SIMON: Will someone point out he could have reduced his carbon footprint considerably by staying over there in the neighborhood and giving the talk?

SCHORR: Yes. It is not considered fair to say that people have to live by their designs.

SIMON: Senate Democrats have been working on a new plan for ways to expand health care. What's different about this plan from some of the others they've been considering?

SCHORR: Well, the big argument now, in the end, is going to be whether there is to be a public option and that, apparently, is going. On the other hand, they have apparently reached some kind of compromise introducing something instead of that, such as expanding Medicare so people at younger ages than 65 can come in. They do appear to be going somewhere in some not very orderly way, but I do think they still are on track.

SIMON: Finally, Dan, I know a technological revolution has arrived because you sent a script to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED by email this week.

SCHORR: Yes, I decided the time had come. There had been a lot of pressure on me, I suggest because you're - all that old to say that you can't work on a computer. Of course you can. And so I said all right, I accepted the challenge. I did it, I did do a script - with an awful lot of help, let me add, from a lot of people. But there you are; I'm in the digital age.

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr - breathlessly contemporary, as always.

SCHORR: My pleasure.

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