Obama Vows Iran Sanctions Veto, Skips ‘March to War’ Talk at State of the Union

President softens his tone toward Congress amid nuclear talks

  • Share
  • Read Later

The most important foreign policy component of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night was its passage about Iran. For the first time, Obama personally vowed to veto legislation being considered by Congress—which enjoys strong support on the Hill—that would impose new economic sanctions on Tehran. As Obama put it:

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

The veto threat itself was not surprising; the White House has issued it before. What was striking was something that Obama did not say. In earlier responses to proposed Iran sanctions legislation on Capitol Hill, Obama administration officials had accused the bill’s backers of lending de facto support for what White House press secretary Jay Carney called a “march to war.” Such talk has infuriated even some Democrats.

Obama’s tone was much softer Tuesday. Rather than make accusations—that “risks of war” line was far more generalized than Carney’s language—he struck a more defensive tone, assuring Congress and the country that he’s not naive about diplomacy. “These negotiations will be difficult,” Obama said. “They may not succeed.”

We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away.  But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb.  If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.

Perhaps the angry bipartisan reaction to the White House’s earlier rhetoric convinced Obama to skip the aggressive rhetoric towards sanctions supporters: There’s some evidence that the push  for more sanctions is partly fueled by resentment toward the White House on Capitol Hill.

Some recent ominous signs about the prospects for a nuclear deal may also have Obama wary of positioning himself too clearly against the Iran hawks. He could also be troubled by polling that suggests Congress has the better of the public opinion argument.

Or it may be as simple as a desire, in a speech overwhelmingly about domestic policy, to avoid headlines about a potential war.

45 comments
bluesmoke1238
bluesmoke1238

Let these arm chair warriors send their sons and daughters first.

AjaxLessome
AjaxLessome

There are certain historically bad decisions made throughout history. Neville Chamberlain declaring peace in our time after meeting with Hitler in Munich is one. Granting Iran sanctions relief without firm concessions to dismantle its nuclear program is another. What the West forgets and why this is such a bad deal is that we are conditioning an agreement on the "hope" of compliance from a nation who's leaders answer to the word of God as interpreted by the supreme leader. At best that seems whimsical. At worst it’s very naive. Any agreement needs to call for concrete demonstrations of compliance; otherwise you can never ensure real change. Iran has never demonstrated it can follow through on agreements and unless it does so now, agreeing to lift sanctions on a promise is absurd.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

We could have had deal with Iran back in 2003. But GWB and Cheney wanted regime change. So now Iran is 10 years deeper in their research.

EarthView
EarthView

While Obama was somewhat conciliatory towards Iran, he still could not help himself from repeating a minor variation of the idiotic, "All options are on the table." When will American politicians learn that threatening other countries is not the way to deal with them? It is even against the UN Charter. Is it any wonder that Iranians shout, "Death to America?"

Besides, does Obama think that Iran will not retaliate if it is attacked? Is he ready for another prolonged war? Didn't Iraq and Afghanistan create enough misery for everyone? Has Iran attacked the U.S. or threatened to attack it? So, what justification is there to continue these idiotic threats?

AnooshAgha
AnooshAgha

Can Iran really win the Football World Cup this summer? Or would the sanctions hurt their chances?

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

It is really a wonder why even hurting Iran feelings, Obama is averse. Sad that because of America`s led sanctions forced Iran to negotiate, it is Iran doing all the demands and this country doing all the following. 

EarthView
EarthView

@AjaxLessome  Once you brought up the Hitler analogy, you lost all credibility. There is nothing in the world today analogous to Nazi Germany. There is no point in arguing with people like you. Sure, say something is like Nazi Germany and there can be no intelligence discussion. Have you heard of Reductio ad Hitlerum?

mikevolze
mikevolze

@EarthView If Iran threatens us on a weekly basis, are we not entitled to respond?  If you think about it, we've been putting kid gloves on when dealing with Iran during the Obama administration.  We haven't really flexed in a while, and maybe it's time to with Iran bragging about how they're not changing a thing about their nuclear program.

lunawatson85
lunawatson85

@EarthView What choice does America have when Tehran chooses to put out statements that are continuously aggressive and are out to make the US look dumb and mistaken over the nuclear deal? Iran must know we aren't afraid to play hardball with terrorist countries.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@EarthView Obama's "all bases covered" posture has less to do with Obama's opinions and more to do with deflecting the reactionary Podunk red-neck nation that feeds the Republican narrative and gets their world view from comic books, Chuck Norris movies, and Fox News, in that order.  Iran at their governing level is enlightened enough to know the political reality in this country just as they know the political reality in their own.  They know that a fair slice of the population here thinks that they're just a bunch of foaming-at-the-mouth "sheiks" dressed in black, speaking jibberish, and mashing missile launch buttons.  It has to enter their calculations, so I'm sure they cut some slack to anything Obama says publically.

EarthView
EarthView

@AnooshAgha Iran is the Asian champion. But, its chance of winning the World Cup is close to zero. So, your question is just stupid.

mikevolze
mikevolze

@ReneDemonteverde We were strong at the get go and have now become terrified of them walking away, but if they do, who cares? We'll come back and hammer them militarily or economically, that has to be the attitude.

lunawatson85
lunawatson85

@ReneDemonteverde Before negotiating the final deal, the P5+1 must make sure to be more forceful and demanding this time around. We don't make concessions to terrorist countries, and that includes Iran. 

EarthView
EarthView

@ReneDemonteverde False. Iran is not negotiating because of the sanctions. It has always been ready to negotiate. We are negotiating now because Obama finally realized that sanctions are not getting anywhere.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverdeAnd Rene is sad that we can't get another useless war killing our young men and women and bleeding our treasury dry.

Osborj1
Osborj1

@EarthView After watching the House Foreign Affairs Committe briefing on Tuesday, It is highly likely that Iran will get a nuclear weapon with this deal. A panel of four experts all agreed that this intermittent plan was very risky. One expert used the Chamberlain-Hitler agreement as an example. They also used North Korea as an example.Iran is two to four months away from a weapon and an additional 4-8 months from having four or five. Facts agreed to by all experts on the panel. Another fact, air strikes will be unlikely to destroy centrifuges. Rouhani oversaw the nuclear program for 10 years according to the panel.

The panel related that the sanctions were effective and would have caused the Iranian government to make a choice.This deal is basically an acknowledgement that Iran will have a weapon and that we're focusing on containment. We can either live with it, reemploy sanctions, or invade Iran. 

EarthView
EarthView

@mikevolze @EarthView Iran has NEVER threatened us. It has only threatened to attack US interests in the region in self defense if the US attacks it. That is its prerogative. 

If you are talking about shouts of "Death to America," those are not threats. They are an expressions of an emotion. In contrast, when Obama and Kerry say, we will "strike" Iran or "All options are on the table," those are explicit threats. If you don't understand the difference, you are beyond hope.

EarthView
EarthView

@lunawatson85 @EarthView Iran has simply articulated the text of the agreement. In contrast, Obama and Kerry have misrepresented the agreement. As such, the US is dumb and its falsehoods should be pointed out.

As for Iran being a terrorist state, you have it completely wrong. Iran does not support terrorism. If you are talking about Hezbollah or Hamas, neither one is a terrorist group. They were formed to fight the terrorism of Israel. Defending your country or people is not terrorism.

Iran is in fact the biggest victim of US and Israeli terrorism. What, you don't think the assassination of Iranian scientists or the Stuxnet and Flame virus were terrorism? Do you know about the CIA-sponsored Jundullah terrorists who have killed numerous Iranians? I have lots of other examples.

mikevolze
mikevolze

@cent-fan @EarthView You're acting like leaders led by a religious leader who believes that the return of the twelfth Imam is nigh are sane and coherent individuals.

AnooshAgha
AnooshAgha

@EarthViewNot anymore stupid than the other questions discussed with regards to the sanctions.  Anyone who thinks these sanctions will have a long lasting impact is delusional.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mikevolze @ReneDemonteverde What I am going to say might offend some here but it is better to go to war with a nuclear free Iran now than wait and go to war with a nuclear armed one. War is inevitable. Sad to say. For surely our pride as Americans will not allow us to be humiliated and insulted on a daily basis.

EarthView
EarthView

@lunawatson85 @ReneDemonteverde It is the U.S. that is the terrorist state. Iran has not engaged in any terrorism. Please see my earlier comments in response to your repetition of the same nonsense. As I said there, in fact, Iran is one of the biggest victims of U.S. and Israeli terrorism.

lunawatson85
lunawatson85

@EarthView How can you seriously believe that? Iran only came to the negotiating table because their economy was brought to its knees. 

mikevolze
mikevolze

@EarthView That's straight up propaganda.  They've been hiding their program for decades, so that just shows their unwillingness to negotiate.

EarthView
EarthView

@ReneDemonteverde @EarthView I don't think you understand the difference between fact and fiction. So, please stick to your 12th Imam fantasy. I won't confuse you with fact anymore. 

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@EarthView What are you ? Nephew of Khamenei ? The 12th Imam disguised as a troll ?

And why is it that you seem to favor Iran over the country that is nurturing you ?

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@EarthView Stupid to you, serious matter to them. Serious enough to wipe Israel off the map, serious enough to take on the United States, serious enough to destroy the world so their 12th imam will come and take over the world. Read Islamic history much, Earthview ?

EarthView
EarthView

@ReneDemonteverde All these stupid arguments about the 12th Imam are hilarious. The 12th Imam is no different from the promise of Jesus who is going to come and save us all and take us to paradise. They are both pure fiction. Nobody in Iran takes that stuff seriously. Ahmadinejad who kept mentioning the 12th Imam is gone and is irrelevant. 

Please stop all these phantom arguments and look at facts. Iranian leaders are extremely logical and realistic as even the top American and Israeli generals have stated. You are just creating a phony straw-man that has no connection to reality. You should go play with your marbles.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mikevolze @cent-fan @EarthView Thats what make this situation very very very dangerous. Facing an enemy with nuclear weapons with the belief that the return of the 12th imam will signify the return of greatness for  Islam. At the peak of the Cold War, at least Russia was aware of the dangers of a nuclear war. Many idiots writing here are not aware of the danger of nuclear weaponry at the hands of fanatic. Many Muslims do want to go to Paradise where 72 virgins await them.

EarthView
EarthView

@AnooshAgha @EarthView Now, that is really a stupid question. How is Congress going to ban Iranian TV? They have already tried to ban satellite broadcasts to Europe. But, banning TV broadcast within Iran? I think you need to take a breather from these news sites. This is my last comment on this issue.

AnooshAgha
AnooshAgha

@EarthView 

As my stock broker keeps telling me, past performance is not an indication for future results.  This Iranian team is not that strong. Their only hope is two points and lesser goal differential. One in thousand- and that's just to advance to the next round; where France will be waiting for them.

For some reason, I am having a hard time keeping the two issues (sanctions and sports) separate today.   So let me run another one by you, should the Congress ban Iranian TV from televising the Superbowl?  That should brake their backs. 

EarthView
EarthView

@AnooshAgha @EarthView Actually, they have never lost to Bosnia Herzegovina which is a first-time qualifier and they could possibly beat Nigeria although most people expect that Nigeria will win. Also, Iran beat the U.S. in Paris in 1998. So, to say that they won't win a single game with confidence is not too logical.

By the way, you need to separate the issue of sanctions from sports. Yes, life goes on with or without sanctions which are utterly stupid.

AnooshAgha
AnooshAgha

@EarthViewI don't think they are going to win it either.  In fact, I doubt that they'll win any of their matches.  

My questions were meant to make a point about how out of control the hype has become- the hype around these sanctions are only serving as a money making tool for politicians who want to raise money from folks who are scared.

as for the Iranians just making it to the World cup was a big victory; a real illustration that life will go on despite the sanctions.

EarthView
EarthView

@AnooshAgha @EarthView I agree that Americans ask lots of stupid question about Iran and the sanctions since Iran is demonized by almost everyone. But, as far as football is concerned, Asian football is not at the level of European or South American football. Unless you play regularly at the highest level of competition, your chances are not too high. 

On the other hand, Iran's athletes were quite successful in the London Olympics. Also, the Iranian volleyball team which is rated number 12 in the world now actually beat Italy, Cuba and the U.S. last year. But, in football, they are not at the highest level yet.

EarthView
EarthView

@ReneDemonteverde @mikevolze You have already been humiliated by defeats in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. If you try it with Iran, you can forget about all the U.S. bases and ships in the Persian Gulf.

You are utterly childish. Nuclear weapons are irrelevant in today's world. Nobody can use them. So, do you want the die now or later? Maybe you should grow up and decide to live and let others live in peace too.

EarthView
EarthView

@lunawatson85 @EarthView Well, do you know that Iran sent a proposal for a "grand bargain" to Bush in 2003? Nobody in the Bush administration even looked at it and Bush proceeded to include Iran in the Axis of Evil. That killed diplomacy for 10 years.

More recently, there were negotiation on exchanging 5% enriched uranium for 20% uranium. When Iran agreed to the exact demands of Obama, Hillary and Obama rejected it and imposed sanctions on Iran. Google the "Tehran Declaration."

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverde@mantisdragon91Iraq was a mistake, not negotiating with Iran when they offered to in 2003 was a mistake as well. And letting the same foolishness get us into a war with Iran would be the biggest mistake of all. I still have friends in the military, sorry if I'd rather not see them put in harms way yet again when negotiation could keep them out.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde So just because you served you consider yourself special and an expert in judging people that you THINK did 

not serve so you call them Chicken Hawks ? So you lost two close friends in

Iraq and others who think positively of their country did not lose any ? And if 

true who did you pattern yourself after, Mantis ? John Kerry ? Seems more like

it. Idiotic invasion in Iraq ? Why ? Because George Bush made up some false 

information of WMDs ? What about Hillary, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and the rest of the Democratic Senators who after reading the report prepared by Tenet 

gave the go signal to invade ? What about Bill Clinton and his CIA Director George'

Tenet who told Dubya that it is a slam dunk that Saddam have weapons of mass

destruction ? See, Mantis while I appreciate you for serving and defending this country that does not give you the right to impugn other people because you THINK they did not serve. Who knows other just dont feel obligated to say they serve just to please you. You might be wrong, ever thought about that ?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverde@mantisdragon91I did defend the country back in 1991. And I also lost two close friends in the idiotic invasion of Iraq. See some pay the price of freedom and some like you merely lead the Chicken Hawk flocks.