President Barack Obama on Tuesday bluntly accused Republican White House hopefuls of recklessly "beating the drums of war" against Iran for political gain while ignoring the potential human costs of such a conflict.
"Some of these folks have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk," he said scornfully at his first White House press conference of 2012, but "those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander in chief."
"The one thing that we have not done is: We haven't launched a war. If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so. And they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be," he said. "Everything else is just talk."
Republican presidential candidates, led by Mitt Romney, have redoubled their attacks on Obama's handling of Iran's nuclear program in recent days, with the former Massachusetts governor acidly declaring that "hope is not a foreign policy" and branding the incumbent Democrat "America's most feckless president since (Jimmy) Carter."
Asked what he would like to say to Romney, Obama replied: "Good luck tonight!"—an obvious reference to the Super Tuesday voting in 10 states. A reporter drily called out "Really?" Obama grinned and replied: "Really!"
But that was a rare moment of humor in what was otherwise a stern, bordering on angry, response from Obama.
"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 to send in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impact that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy," he said.
"This is not a game. There is nothing casual about it," Obama said, charging that his Republican critics cared "more about politics than trying to solve a difficult problem."
"Those who are suggesting, or proposing, or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be. I'm not one of those people," Obama said.
Romney has not called for immediate military action, but has repeatedly criticized Obama over his approach to getting Iran to freeze its nuclear program, which major world powers charge is a covert way for Tehran to obtain an atomic weapon. Iran denies the accusation. Other Republican contenders have leveled similar attacks.
Romney has charged that Obama has not done enough to hammer home to Iran that warnings about possible future military action are credible, and accused him of not making it clear that the United States will stand with Israel.
Obama, who met Monday with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, repeated that he believed "we have a window through which we can resolve this issue peacefully."
"This notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week, or two weeks, or month or to months is not borne out by the facts," he said.
Read coverage of Super Tuesday 2012 at Yahoo News.
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- President Barack Obama
- Mitt Romney