Tags: obama | iran | deal | veterans | critics

Obama on Iran Deal Critics: They Were Wrong About Iraq War, Too

Image: Obama on Iran Deal Critics: They Were Wrong About Iraq War, Too
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015 03:47 PM

President Barack Obama defended the deal the U.S. and other world powers struck with Iran on its nuclear program and said many critics of the agreement are the same people who rushed to support going to war in Iraq.

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh Tuesday, Obama said a core component of American leadership in the world must be exhausting every diplomatic or economic avenue before committing U.S. troops to another armed conflict.

“Sending our sons and daughters into harm’s way should always be a last resort,” Obama said in an address to the group’s annual convention. “That is strength and that is American leadership.”

He didn't spare his critics.

"We’re hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that we’ve heard in the past,” Obama said at another point. His Republican critics are “the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would take a few months," he added.

Obama faces a hard sell of the Iran agreement to Congress, where most Republican lawmakers -- and some Democrats -- have expressed skepticism if not outright opposition. Tuesday’s speech was part of an administration campaign that also includes calls to and briefings for lawmakers and engaging the public through speeches, appearances and social media.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and other top officials are heading to the Capitol on Wednesday to brief House and Senate lawmakers on the details of the agreement. They are scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Public Outreach

The White House also set up a new Twitter account, @TheIranDeal, as part of a campaign to build public support. The account is designed to present graphics and links to information as well as answer questions from the public.

Congress has 60 days to review the accord struck by the U.S. and five other world powers with Iran on July 14. If lawmakers pass a resolution of disapproval, Obama can veto it.

Administration officials have expressed confidence that enough Democrats would back the president to sustain a veto, which would stand unless two-thirds of Congress voted to override it. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy disagreed, saying opposition to the Iran deal will intensify the longer the accord is examined.

“I don’t believe a veto-proof majority is out of reach,” the California Republican told reporters.

Obama said the U.S. retains the option of a military strike if Iran cheats. Even so, he said, for too long the first instinct of the country’s leadership was to send in the military whenever the U.S. faced a challenge.

‘Principled Diplomacy’

“We learned painfully where that kind of thinking can lead,” he said. “Instead of chest-beating that rejects even the idea of talking to our adversaries, which sometimes sounds good in sound bites but accomplishes nothing, we’re seeing that strong and principled diplomacy can give hope of actually resolving a problem peacefully.”

The negotiations that led to an agreement to cut off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon were part of the “hard and patient work” of building a united front to deal with a threat without resorting to force, he said.

Obama also ripped congressional Republicans for what he called “mindless” budget cuts that threaten military readiness, hurt veterans’ programs and put at risk U.S. economic strength.

He urged Republicans to work with Democratic lawmakers to end the budget sequestration process that was part of a deal he made with Congress in 2011 to end a deadlock over spending.

“The reckless budget cuts that are going on under the name of sequestration in Washington, that’s not the way to keep our armed forces ready,” he said.

VA Changes

Obama also told the veterans’ group that the work being done to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs still isn’t completed a year after revelations of long wait times and inadequate care at its health facilities.

“We have to acknowledge our work is not done; we still have a big challenge,” Obama said. “The VA is still struggling to keep up with a surge of veterans seeking care.”

Obama, who replaced the VA secretary last year, said the agency faces new challenges because of both aging veterans from earlier wars and a surge in younger veterans seeking care.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said Obama still hasn’t put in place solid management at the VA, which provides health care for veterans.

“One out of every three veterans waiting for care at the VA has already died, and President Obama still doesn’t have a plan to change the culture at the VA,” Cory Fritz, a Boehner spokesman, said in an e-mail.

In conjunction with the VFW appearance, the administration announced final rules extending limits on the rates that can be charged for some loans to members of the armed forces, taking aim at what the White House says are predatory lenders who target the military.


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President Barack Obama defended the deal the U.S. and other world powers struck with Iran on its nuclear program and said many critics of the agreement are the same people who rushed to support going to war in Iraq. In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh...
obama, iran, deal, veterans, critics
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2015-47-21
Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015 03:47 PM
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