U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out Tuesday at criticism from Republican rivals over his Iran policy, saying “bluster” is not helping resolve the nuclear standoff.
Amid mounting speculation that Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear sites in coming months, Obama said that American politicians ‘beating the drums of war’ had a responsibility to explain the costs and benefits of military action.
“This is not a game, and there’s nothing casual about it,” Obama told a news conference. “When I see some of these folks who had a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them, specifically, what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years.”
Speaking after Republican campaign hopefuls pledged a tougher stand on Iran, Obama dismissed the comments as political.
“What’s said on the campaign trail... those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They’re not commander in chief,” Obama told reporters.
“And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war. I’m reminded of the decision that I have to make, in terms of sending our young men and women into battle. And the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.”
Earlier Tuesday, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney suggested he would be more willing than Obama to consider using military force while Rick Santorum backed an ultimatum demanding Iran stop nuclear production to avoid action by the U.S. to “tear down” its facilities.
Newt Gingrich, a long-shot for president, told the Washington gathering he would back everything short of war to “undermine and replace” the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In White House talks on Monday, Obama appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for more time for international sanctions and diplomacy to work.
Obama has insisted that military options remain on the table if other means fail to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu told Obama that Israel has not made any decision on striking Iran. But Netanyahu also gave no sign of backing away from possible military action.