Today during a Oval Office press briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama said the two leaders “prefer” to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis “diplomatically.” But the two men have not always seens eye-to-eye on how to confront Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Netanyahu has openly rejected efforts to diplomatically deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon while Obama, speaking at the AIPAC conference on Sunday, warned that “loose talk of war” is benefiting the Iranian government.
But a full page Washington Post ad taken out by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) — and signed by eight retired, high ranking, military and intelligence officials — urges Obama to continue exploring diplomatic paths and resist the push for war with Iran. The ad reads:
Unless we or an ally is attacked, war should be the option of last resort. Our brave servicemen and women expect you to exhaust all diplomatic and peaceful options before you send them into harm’s way.
Preventing a nuclear armed Iran is rightfully your priority and red line. Fortunately, diplomacy had not been exhausted and peaceful solutions are still possible.
While Obama reiterated in his speech to AIPAC yesterday that he “will take no options off the table” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have blasted Obama as insufficiently hawkish on Iran.
In their testimony before Congress, American intelligence and military leadership consistently make the case that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon and diplomacy and sanctions can still work to deter Iran from restarting its nuclear weapons program. The IAEA has repeatedly expressed concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program but has not concluded that Tehran has restarted its nuclear weapons program.
Signatories of the NIAC letter — which include five retired Generals — urge Obama to “resist the pressure for a war of choice with Iran.”
Indeed, George W. Bush’s CIA director issued an even more stark warning. In January, former CIA director and NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden told Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin that the Bush administration had carefully examined the possibility of bombing Iran and concluded that “[attacking Iran] would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon.”