Obama draws line connecting Iran critics to Iraq War backers

Obama draws line connecting Iran critics to Iraq War backers
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President Obama on Tuesday took on critics of his Iran nuclear deal, comparing them to those who wanted to start a war with Iraq and believed it would end in a matter of weeks.

During a speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention, Obama ratcheted up the rhetoric against opponents of the landmark accord by evoking the controversial war, which began a dozen years ago. 

“In the debate over this deal, we’re hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past,” he said.

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“And some of the same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program are the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would take a few months.

“Instead of rushing into another conflict, I believe that sending our sons and daughters into harm’s way must always be a last resort, and that before we put their lives on the line, we should exhaust every alternative,” the president added.

In making the connection between Iraq and Iran, Obama attempted both to sideline his critics — including many Republicans in Washington — and bolster his own record on foreign policy. The former Illinois senator’s opposition to the Iraq War set him apart from others during his 2008 election campaign and has continued to be a point of pride throughout his time in the White House.

“I believe there’s a smarter, more responsible way to protect our national security,” Obama said on Tuesday. “And that is what we are doing.”

During the campaign, Obama was the target of repeated criticism from many hawks for advocating for diplomacy over military action.

“We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” he memorably said in his first inaugural address.

Critics called the sentiment naive then, and many of them have gone on to make similar accusations against Obama and the rest of his administration about the deal with Iran.

For instance, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a backer of the war in Iraq and a candidate for president in 2016, this week called Obama "a weak president trying to sell a bad deal." 

Updated at 8:10 p.m.