Without Iran deal, there will be another war – Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on a nuclear deal with Iran at American University in Washington August 5, 2015. © Jonathan Ernst
President Barack Obama has warned that without the Iran nuclear deal, there will be another war in the Middle East. He said that those who voted for the War in Iraq are now opposing diplomacy with Iran.

“The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some sort of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not 3 months from now, but soon. Military action will be far less effective than this deal in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," the President said.

President Obama argued that the deal with Iran is the best way to prevent the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to prevent war, and that the deal being rejected by Congress would be bad for the security of the United States.

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The President noted that "many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal."

He continued,"Now, when I ran for president eight years ago as a candidate who had opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq. I said then that America didn’t just have to end that war, we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. Those calling for war labelled themselves strong and decisive, while dismissing those who disagreed as weak – even appeasers of a malevolent adversary."

Obama said that walking away from the deal is "fantasy" due it being a delicate international agreement between many sovereign states, not just the US and Iran, and that those other partners would not support a stricter deal.

“Those who say we can walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. Instead of strengthening our position, as some have suggested, Congress’s rejection would almost certainly result in multilateral sanctions unraveling."

The President added that unilateral sanctions not only wouldn't work, but that they could lead to detrimental effects on the United States itself.

“We would have to cut off China from the American financial system. And since they happen to be major purchasers of our debt, such actions could trigger severe disruptions in our own economy, and by the way, raise questions internationally about the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.”

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Israel is one of the only countries that publicly denounced the Iran deal, and this disapproval was noted in Obama's Wednesday speech. The President noted that he took the concerns of Israel seriously and reminded the audience of his administration's strong partnership with the country.

“But the fact is, partly due to American military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided on unprecedented levels, Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger, whether from Iran directly or from its proxies. On the other hand, a nuclear armed Iran changes that equation. And that’s why this deal ultimately must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

President Obama also channeled President John F. Kennedy, who presided over the Cuban missile crisis and called for diplomatic solutions to control nuclear weapons during the height of the Cold War and delivered a similar speech 52 years ago.

Kennedy’s plan for peace worked, according to Obama. “We created the time and space to win the cold war without firing a shot at the Soviets. The agreement now reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled diplomacy.”

Obama’s speech unconvincing as Netanyahu lobby complicates issue

However, Obama’s address is unlikely to make any difference and change the minds of US lawmakers, believes Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, the president of the American Iranian Council.

“Obviously , the US Congress is more influenced by Mr. Netanyahu and the Jewish lobby than by President Obama and his people, that is almost a fact,” he said. “Those who had made [up] their mind … I don’t believe that [Obama’s] speech converted anybody. At the end of the day this speech really remains neutral as far as the deal goes and its future.”

Iran has become a pawn in disputes between the US and Israel, Amirahmadi believes.

“With Mr. Obama threatening war if this deal does not go, and Mr. Netanyahu basically threatening war if this deal goes [ahead] – in both cases it seems to me that Iran is destined to be attacked,” he said.

“I’m surprized that both sides are talking about war so easily and so relaxed as if it was a kids play. ‘If there is no deal there will be a war’, President Obama says. I don’t think he has a right to say that, it is not even legal internationally to threaten a sovereign nation so openly,” Amirahmadi concluded.

Conn Hallinan, a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, also told RT that he believes PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his lobby in the US are the ones complicating the passage of the agreement.

“The Israeli military and the Israeli intelligence apparatuses are on board with the Iran agreement. It is the Netanyahu government that is not,” Hallinan said.

Eventually, this type of pressure from Israel on US lawmakers may result in a Congressional rejection of the agreement, despite the fact that the “majority of the American Jews support the Iran agreement.”

“You are going to see the agreement rejected by Congress, then vetoed by the president, having enough votes that they can't overcome the veto,” Hallinan projected.

But if Congress actually blocks the agreement, Hallinan argues, this will lead to US isolation from most of the world’s nations, because Americans are “not the only people negotiating here.” That, according to the expert, is the “last thing” the Obama administration wants.

The Wednesday address comes just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would debate the Iran nuclear deal in September, following a five-week summer recess.

Under legislation passed earlier this year, the Senate can take up a resolution of disapproval, approval, or to do nothing.

Many Republicans have said that they do not support the deal, including House Speaker John Boehner. Meanwhile, the majority of Senate Democrats are heading into the recess publicly undecided.

McConnell has warned Democrats not to block a vote.

Under the deal, Iran accepted limits to its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.