President Barack Obama received a warm welcome from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary members who convened at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Tuesday on day 4 of their 116th annual convention.
During his 40-minute speech, Obama defended the nuclear accord with Iran, discussed the continued need for improved health services for veterans in light of last year’s Veteran’s Affairs scandal in which at least 18 veterans died while on a waiting list to be seen at a VA hospital in Phoenix and mentioned last week’s murder of five service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a lone gunman.
While making his push for support of the Iran deal, reached just one week ago, Obama criticized those judging the deal without knowledge of the facts.
“There is some shaky information out there,” he said, adding that he wanted to set the record straight.
As a result of the deal, he said, “Iran is prohibited from pursuing a nuclear bomb permanently.”
Among the accord’s provisions that will ensure this end, Obama said, are “unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear facilities” and the ability to snap back sanctions “if Iran cheats.”
Significantly, the president said, because of the Iran nuclear deal, a future American president will be in a strong position to act if Iran attempts to obtain nuclear weapons despite the agreement.
Obama criticized those who, “in the debate over this deal, echo some of the same mindsets and policies that failed in the past.”
“These are the same folks who were quick to go to war in Iraq, and we know the consequence of that choice,” he said.
The “more responsible way” to protect America’s national security, the president said, is to unite the international community in meeting the threat of a nuclear Iran. He said the deal was evidence of “strong diplomacy.”
Such diplomacy is preferable to “rushing into another conflict,” he said, and “it must be a last resort to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way.”
Obama said that not all sanctions against Iran would be lifted pursuant to the accord, and that several would remain in place, including those that address the regime’s human rights violations.
While the president has been criticized for not negotiating the release of several Americans jailed in Iran as part of the deal, he said his administration “would not relent until we bring home our Americans who are unjustly detained.” He did not reveal, however, any specific plan to achieve their release.
Obama also failed to address other concerns voiced by opponents of the agreement, such as the potential results of pumping some $150 billion back into a country that is a known funder of terrorist organizations, or the threat to Israel’s security.
The president emphasized the importance of working together with our global allies to prevent terror and told the audience of veterans that he would “not hesitate to use force to protect our nation, including against terrorism.”
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.