Obama to Iran Critics: Support the Nuclear Deal or Push for War

Those are the options, the president says, anything else is posturing


White House

President Obama held a press conference today to defend the deal struck between Iran, the U.S., and five other countries, and to advocate for Congress to approve it. Without being as explicit about the deal being far from perfect, Obama largely made the same argument for the deal Shikha Dalmia made here yesterday morning—that the deal is better than any other option.

Obama acknowledged Israel and other allies in the Middle East are not entirely unjustified in being worried about the deal, but insisted that the mechanisms put in place in the negotiated deal—inspections of nuclear sites, tracking of uranium, etc—are the best insurance against a nuclear armed Iran.

"Is it possible Iran will try to cheat despite having all these… inspection verification mechanisms?" Obama asked. Despite the inspection regime imposed by the deal being the "most vigorous" in history, said Obama, it was still possible Iran would try to cheat. But, Obama noted, "the only argument you can make against the mechanisms that we put forward is that Iran is so intent" on acquiring a nuclear weapon that "it doesn't matter" what the world does. "That," Obama pointed out, "means you can't negotiate. What you're really saying is that you have to apply military force to guarantee they don't have a nuclear program." And, Obama insisted, critics of the deal were not proposing a military campaign, or, really, any other alternative.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in rejecting the deal, parroted the position of his colleague and competitor for the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), saying he too would have preferred the temporary arrangement agreed to in April remain in place instead of the new deal. But that's not realistic. The temporary measure was a temporary measure, passed in order to provide time for a final deal. It wasn't designed as a long-term solution and there's no reason to believe Iran, or the other sides in the negotiation, would agree to extending it in lieu of a deal.

As for the lifting of the arms embargo, Obama said the U.S. remained concerned, but noted various international laws permitted the U.S. to interdict arms shipments headed from Iran to militant groups in the region. And should Iran be found to be violating the terms of the deal, Obama noted, sanctions would "snap back" immediately. During the question period, he more or less dismissed the notion the U.S. would cooperate more closely in evicting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from Iraq.

Obama also rejected the idea he was "content" with Americans still being held hostage in Iran, calling the National Journal's Major Garrett's question "nonsense." The president said tying the release of hostages to a nuclear deal wasn't "logical," because, he argued, it would signal to Iran that it could get more concessions based on the fact that he's holding hostage. Obama insists his administration is "working every single day" to get the hostages out of Iran.

NEXT: Actually We Should Encourage Women Who Have Abortions to Donate Fetal Tissue to Science

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So the choices are effectively give them $150 billion dollars and the ability to import ballistic missile technology in return for absolutely nothing or bomb them? Really? Obama is the king of strawmen and false dilemmas but this one is epic even by his standards.

    1. There are those who say Obama is the King of False Choices. And to them I say, “HURRRRR DURR HURR HURRRRRRR!!!”

      1. I mean, “He is”

      2. Damn your quick fingers.

    2. Obama issues a false dichotomy is it?

  2. “Is it possible Iran will try to cheat…”

    Gee wiz, really? If we think they are cheating, we can always ask permission to do an inspection and hope they say yes.

  3. Obama insists his administration is “working every single day” to get the hostages out of Iran.

    He continued, “I mean, I’m not working on that every single day… or, really, any day. But, rest assured, Top Men are.”

    1. And it was worth signing this shitty deal without getting them out? Fucking despicable.

    2. You know who else’s administration was working every single day to get hostages out of Iran?…

  4. I continue to reject ya’lls’ bilateral world.

    /fitty shades of derp

    1. +1 cuff

  5. Behold Barack Obama, destroyer of strawmen!

    It would be appreciated it, one, just one, Reason editor would acknowledge that this is the best possible deal, or the least worst possible deal because of the manner in which the Obama administration pursued it (combined with other foreign policy failures, of course).

  6. Ye gods, talk about false dichotomies. There are lots and lots of other options. Though it could be argued that he’s taken at least one off the table, which means one less option between not-war and war.

    1. It seems like, on one hand, there are two possible choices- war or not war. However, not war is made of a cornucopia of options.

      1. Not just that. There’s also what we’ve been doing–embargo, which can be scaled up and down. Or, on the flip side, there’s the engagement strategy, like the U.S. did with China in the 70s. And there are other possibilities, like offering Iran statehood. Some more reasonable than others, I’ll grant.

        1. Dear lord, can you imagine the hue and cry if Obama tried the engagement thing?

          That would’ve been huge fun.

          1. Sadly, I can. It is, IMO, the BEST of all strategies. Engagement, statehood, trade.

            1. Hey, Iran, were you aware that we’re super-rich? No, no, you don’t have to buy into our culture. Here, let us buy some oil from you and sell you some iPads. There, was that so bad?

              1. We can buy their capers and pistachios and they can buy our corn and personal electronics.

                1. Oh, right, pistachios. I completely forgot about those. I used to work with some Iranian exiles (back when such people called themselves Persians to avoid trouble) and had some Iranian pistachios and Russian vodka. Good times. The pistachios were most excellent.

        2. “-like offering Iran statehood.”

          That’s gonna piss off some Puerto Ricans.

  7. Obama largely made the same argument for the deal Shikha Dalmia made here yesterday morning

    Meow, Ed! Sticking the knife into co-worker’s back so deftly. Mallory Archer approves!

  8. If the red team dislikes the accord, the repube-controlled senate can kill the deal by simply failing to muster the two-thirds majority necessary to ratify the treaty….Oh, wait…..the Corker bill, approved in early May, 98 to 1 in the senate, effectively gave the dorm-room bullshit artist carte blanche with respect to negotiations with Iran; that is, congress pre-ratified whatever deal would be had. Now they whine. Funny, that. One might even think they were cynical sociopaths. But surely that can’t be true.

    1. Just like to gutting and stuffing a House bill sent to the Senate with revenue legislation and deeming it to have originated in the House.

    2. Republicans don’t really care about the deal itself. They just don’t want to get blamed for it.

  9. I recently had a family gathering where the subject of Obama’s foreign policy came up. My extended family are a mix of Chamber of Commerce Republicans and Cambridge ‘Liberal’ Democrats.

    The discussion was surprisingly civil. Sadly, the progressive wing, had a narrative that they absolutely could not be shaken from to explain the tatters of the mid-east policy.

    They blamed the media.

    The media had pressured Hillary into rushing into Libya with their lurid videos of Khaddafi’s army and air force crushing the people’s rebellion.

    The media had pressured Obama into drawing lines he didn’t want to draw in Libya.

    Basically, nothing was anybody’s fault. There was no understanding of the spine a person has to have to carry out their duties prudently and diligently even if gibbering monkeys are slinging verbal feces bombs at one.

    And this is a big problem; these are not stupid people; some of them move in circles that include the upper echelons of the policy wonks in the MA democratic party. They were in full reality denial mode. Hillary was good. Obama was good. They made wise decisions and were experienced. Everything good flowed from their wisdom. Everything bad flowed from other people forcing their hands or putting them in no-win situations.

    1. Being middle aged, I have no memory of what things were like in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. But I suspect that these same people, some of whom lived through and participated in these sorts of discussions back then would have had a far stronger coupling between reality and their perception of it. When people refuse to look at reality and recognize that their mental map is not working, their behavior will produce increasingly unwanted results. I believe the past 15 years have been a stark warning of the hell that awaits if these disconnected people are allowed to rule over us. A hell of perpetual crises, short-term thinking, colossal misjudgments and rampant corruption, all strangling our and our children’s prosperity.

      1. If you don’t remember the ’80s, I think you are younger than “middle-aged”!

        I don’t know. Politics has always been the mind-killer. On the other hand, Obama True Believers seem to have a remarkable ability to excuse everything he does. Having an Iran deal that leaves Americans unjustly imprisoned there is simply jaw-dropping.

        1. In the 80’s I was a teenager whose life consisted of sci fi, computers and creative attempts to avoid writing English papers.

    2. er.. should be:

      lines he didn’t want to draw in Libya Syria.

    3. If Hillary could be pressured that easily, she certainly should not be President.

    4. “They blamed the media.”

      Odd, I thought the media were mostly propagandists for their side?

      Oh…the “media”. I get it, can’t say “Jews” in polite company.

    5. Christ, it must suck to have a family with split political views. I’m always hearing about how awful holidays can get.

      Thankfully my family is uniformly conservative/libertarian so the most we ever disagree on are exactly how many guns a person should own before it starts getting weird, and whether or not we should really call Bruce Jenner ‘Caitlyn’ from now on.

  10. Ah, yes. So like Obama. The King of the False Choice.

  11. I’m greatly looking forward to the day that some journalist worth the title eventually does a serious investigation as to why it is that Obama supports the Iranian theocrats and other radical Muslims in the Middle East so damn much.

    Surely I can’t be the only person on earth who thinks it’s a little strange that he supports the dissidents in Egypt, but not the dissidents in Iran, right? Is it simply that Valerie “The Svengali” Jarrett holds that much sway over him, or there something even more sinister going on?

    1. It is a puzzle. Jarrett might be a part of it.

      Another puzzle: who aren’t American Jews abandoning Obama in droves? I swear, Obama could raise the Nazi flag over the White House and nuke Israel and Jews would still overwhelmingly support him. “Well, at least he cares about the poor, unlike those evil Republicans and libertarians.”

      1. I suspect that many of them have (I know a couple who got fed up with him at least a couple of years ago), but there are so few of them that it likely wouldn’t even be noticeable in any polls. But I could be completely mistaken on that.

      2. Jews feel WAY more comfortable with someone who fits in with the northeastern secular/metropolitan/intellectual set, even if they’re not a friend to Israel (or an outright enemy, for that matter). Far more so than they’ve ever been with southern Evangelicals or libertarians or really any other identity group on the right.

    2. I’m of the opinion that the day after election day 2016, a good number of journalists are going to go after Obama in a serious way.

      1. Yeah, but I also thought that might happen in 2012 and 2014, too.

      2. LOL

  12. “You (Obama), Were Given The Choice Between War And Dishonor.
    You Chose Dishonor And You Will Have War.”
    – Winston Churchill

  13. American Pastor Saeed Abedini, three other Americans, and nearly 90 Christians remain in prison even as the United States and other world leaders have reached an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding its nuclear program.

    The American hostages held by Iran include former Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post report Jason Rezaian, held for one year this month, and Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has now been held for over 1,000 days. Saeed was imprisoned on September 26, 2012. On the morning of January 27, 2013, Pastor Saeed stood before Judge Pir-Abassi in Tehran to receive his verdict from a show trial. He was convicted of “undermining national security” for his work among house churches in Iran from 2000 to 2005.

    source International Christian Concern

    1. Well, in fairness to Obama, we don’t have that many Iranian terrorists to trade for them.

  14. “The gov?ern?ment had to choose between war and shame. They chose shame. They will get war too.”

  15. Obama got owned, and Iran is laughing its ass off. That ‘negotiate without preconditions” crap is the bulk of Barky’s foreign policy. Thanks to him, we’ll end up using a military option anyway, because Iran just got the green light to make a nuclear weapon.

    1. Yup. Except when that day comes, Iran will have had the benefit of several years of building up its conventional defenses with brand new cutting edge Russian air defense technology thanks to to the sanctions being lifted.

      Overall this deal is such a clusterfuck it is impossible to imagine how it could have been worse.

  16. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”? Prime Minister Winston Churchill

  17. Keep in mind, this is a talking head speaking here. Many of us are old enough to realize what has happened since the people of Iran rejected America’s leader for their country. America has spoken terribly of Iran ever since. But then America speaks badly about everyone who will not bow down to her. Witness, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Libya and others who tell America she is a hypocrite. Anyone old enough to remember the Shah of Iran knows this is pure propaganda, promoted by every president since Iran said goodbye to American puppets..

    1. Keep in mind that the Shah’s father took over from an even more corrupt kingdom and wanted Iran to be a republic like Turkey but the mullahs convinced him to become king.

      Then, he was deposed by the British and Allies in 1941.

      So, its not like Iran didn’t have coups before the West intervened, and its not as if the mullahs were democratic modernizers.

    2. Yes, everyone else is always super extra nice to the people who set themselves up as their adversary.

  18. Here’s how to defeat Iran, sign a free trade agreement with them.
    When goods cross borders, armies do not.

    1. Great idea!

    2. You are aware that free trade was at a high point before WW I, right?

      There were theories back then about how that meant war was unimaginable.

      And Thomas Friedman’s claim that no two countries that had a McDonalds had ever gone to war was dashed in Yugoslavia, IIRC.

      1. Always with the negative waves.

    3. So you don’t think the mullahs in Iran are perfectly capable of taking our money with one hand and stabbing us in the back with the other?

      1. Iran is a zero military threat to the US. Improving the lives of average Iranians would embolden them to get rid of the mullahs.

  19. if anything, i don’t see how this deal doesn’t basically strengthen the case for eventually bombing iran, or letting israel do it. which is not to say that we should, but at least whoever our dear president is at that time can say they broke their agreement, so we have no choice, right? i mean, to paraphrase an article i read, “if a nation is committed to getting the bomb and they have resources to use, there’s very little we can do to stop them in the end”. if nothing else, i just don’t know how anyone can really have faith in this president or his state departments ability to negotiate anything benefiting anything other than their visually impaired view of the world.

    1. “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
      John Quincy Adams

  20. “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    –John Stuart Mill

  21. Is the US switching side from financing and arming sunni islamist terrorists to financing and arming shia islamic terrorists? US closest allied in the world, the medieval tyranny of Saudi Arabia with the worlds 4th largest military budget (close to Russia’s), AFAIK invaded Yemen without even telling the US about it, and has united the Arab League into a military alliance under its leadership. Now that the US gives nuclear weapons to the Iranian terrorists, for sure Saudi will get nuclear too. They can get them from close US friend the islamic military dictatorship of Pakistan. I think that US new military alliance with Iran will guarantee war, Saudi will bomb any Iranian capability it think is threatening. Iran has practically no air force so it will be a one sided war, but I doubt that the bedouin tyrant will show any mercy to civilian victims. The tyrant (the family) might want to please God by exterminating all shia muslims once and for all (there are about 200 million of them). I wonder if Israel will sit passively and let itself be nuked by the US supported shia and sunni terror states. Even India and Russia should worry.

  22. O.K., so you the President says there are no alternatives – it’s either war or the deal you brokered. Huh? How about more sanctions? How about not making such a bad deal? How about walking away from it?
    You have to ask yourself the question; what is this president thinking? After 6 and 1/2 years, we know he’s looking out for his narcissistic self and that’s it in a nutshell.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.