Last week, President Obama said that the “loose talk of war” is benefiting the regime in Iran and specifically called out the Republican candidates for the “casualness with which” they “talk about war” with Iran. “Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” he said, adding, “I’m reminded of the costs involved in war.”
Today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace played a clip of Obama’s warning during an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The Arizona senator called it “bothersome” and, just moments later, urged the president to demarcate his own “red lines” in which the U.S. will act with Israel:
MCCAIN: It’s a little bothersome that a president of the United States would denigrate the views of other people who feel that they have a right to weigh in on this issue. It’s not casual that some of us in the Senate have become engaged. It’s not casual on the part of Mitt Romney to say that it is unacceptable for the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. [...]
They continue to develop a nuclear weapon and there has been no change from that course despite the sanctions and all the other efforts that are being made. … and these are the following red lines Mr. Prime Minister, we will act with you if Iran reaches those red lines and those red lines could be drawn. Instead the president has decided to persuade Israel not to attack at least between now and November of 2012. It’s not helpful.
Watch the clip:
For his part, the president has warned about the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, including undermining the nonproliferation regime, endangering regional security and risking a bomb falling into the hands of terrorists. But he also stressed just last weekend that “an opportunity still remains for diplomacy — backed by pressure — to succeed.”
And McCain inadvertently highlighted the president’s point when he called for the U.S. to draw so-called “red lines” with which to “act” with Israel on Iran while at the same time, misrepresenting known facts about Iran’s nuclear program. “They continue to develop a nuclear weapon,” McCain said this morning. While the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have expressed serious concerns that Iran may be moving toward a nuclear weapons capability, neither the IAEA nor U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Iran has made the decision to build a bomb. As the AP noted in an in-depth article on Iran’s program this weekend, “Iran has the equipment and raw materials to produce the fissile core of a nuclear weapon. … But there is no evidence that the Islamic Republic has taken steps in that direction.”