Obama warns that rejecting Iran deal could lead to war
U. S. President Barack Obama made an aggressive case for his signature nuclear deal with Iran Wednesday, telling lawmakers that rejecting diplomacy would lead to war and destroy U. S. credibility.
Casting it as “the most consequential foreign policy debate” since the Iraq War, Obama said Congress must not waver under pressure from critics whom history had already proven wrong.
“Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U. S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option: another war in the Middle East,” he said.
“Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal,” he added, urging lawmakers to instead choose a forsaken American tradition of strong diplomacy.
Obama said the vote this time round was bigger than any political career.
“If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear program or the sanctions we have painstakingly built,” he warned.
“We will have lost something more precious. America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy. America’s credibility as the an-
chor of the international system.”
‘Never fear to negotiate’
Positing the now unpopular Iraq war as a cautionary tale, Obama recalled president John F. Kennedy’s diplomatic efforts to engage a nuclear Soviet Union as a more worthy example to follow.
Obama’s remarks were made at the American University, in Washington, where in 1963 Kennedy used a commencement address to argue vehemently for peace amid a drumbeat of calls for military buildup against the Soviet Union.
Obama, brandishing his own record as evidence he is not weak or willing to appease, said: “I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat. I’ve sat by their bedside sometimes when they come home. I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.”
He added: “There are times when force is necessary” and that time may yet come if Iran does not respect the deal — but not yet.
‘Endless straw men’
Senators John McCain and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, in a joint statement, accused Obama of relying on “endless straw men.”
Obama admitted that Iran might use cash coming its way under sanctions relief to fund “terrorist organizations.”
But he said that was preferable to an Iran armed with a nuke.