Obama Blasts Republicans’ “Casual” War Talk

“They’re not commander in chief,” Obama says of those who criticize his Iran policy.

President Barack Obama points to a member of the audience at a town hall style meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, May 14, 2009
President Barack Obama points to a member of the audience at a town hall style meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, May 14, 2009 (White House/Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday criticized the “casualness” with which the Republicans seeking to replace him in November talk “talk about war.”

“What’s said on the campaign trail, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” the president said. “They’re not commander-in-chief.”

Among the four Republicans seeking that job, three insist that the United States should consider military action to delay or destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment program which many Western nations suspect is designed to attain a nuclear weapons capacity.

President Obama cautioned against warmongering hover, urging his conservative challengers to “explain clearly to the American people what the costs and benefits of war would be.”

He also defended his administration’s efforts to stop Iran from reaching an atomic weapons capacity when he said that the decision whether to launch airstrikes could be some time away.

“This notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month or two months is not borne out by the facts,” according to the president.

The American strategy has so far consisted of economic sanctions which are designed to dissuade the Iranians from pressing ahead with their nuclear program. Three Republican presidential hopefuls are skeptical of the sanctions regime however.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been the most outspoken among the contenders in his support for covert and military action against Iran’s nuclear effort, alleged in response to the president’s comments that the Middle Eastern country’s leaders were “deepening their commitment to nuclear weapons while we talk.”

Both Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is considered likeliest to secure the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in August, have vowed that if they are elected, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, perhaps the most neoconservative candidate between the three, has warned of the threat that is posed by Iran for years. He believes that the country is ruled by religious fanatics and, like Gingrich, has endorsed the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Despite President Obama’s insistence that the decision whether to attack Iran or not is far from imminent, Israel reportedly doesn’t feel the same way.

According to the American defense secretary, Leon Panetta, the Jewish state fears that Iran will enter a “zone of immunity” as early as this spring at which point Israel nor the United States could disable enough of its nuclear sites anymore to prevent it from building an atomic weapon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Washington to confer with Obama on Monday, said that “Israel will always reserve the right to defend itself” in a speech to a pro-Israel lobby group on Tuesday, adding, “The Jewish state will not allow those who seek Israel’s destruction the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.”