Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington today, the president -- whose allegiance to Israel has been called repeatedly into question by members of the GOP -- made his support forcefully clear. He put extra emphasis on his opposition to the notion of a nuclear-armed Iran, and suggested at one point a military intervention was not out of the realm of possibility.
From The New York Times:
“I do not have a policy of containment,” Mr. Obama said, to applause from the huge crowd in the cavernous hall at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. “I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”
The comments echoed similar ones recently spoken by Benjamin Netanyahu ("We reserve the right to defend ourselves"), ahead of a planned meeting between the two leaders on Monday. The Israeli PM is expected to push the president on what he means, exactly, by "force" and "when necessary." Israel wants Iran to agree to an immediate halt to all uranium enrichment, as verified by U.N. inspectors, before any further discussions about Tehran's nuclear ambitions could continue. Anything less that that would be cause for an air strike. Obama, citing during his AIPAC speech the sight of wounded soldiers being the "the most searing of my presidency," says a military action is only a last, desperate resort. He prefers a softer strategy, involving international economic sanctions and diplomacy.