President Obama hit back hard on Thursday against Republicans who accused him of foreign-policy “appeasement,” dismissing their criticisms as “political noise” and signaling that he will not ignore attacks against his record during the upcoming presidential campaign. He also left no doubt that he will be quick to remind all critics that it was under his stewardship that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed.
“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement,” the president responded sharply when a reporter noted Republican accusations. “Or whoever is left out there, ask them about that.”
Only the day before, several of the Republican presidential contenders attached the word “appeasement” to Obama during their appearances before the Republican Jewish Coalition. Several of the candidates have now made the accusation, which evokes memories of pre-World War II efforts to appease Adolf Hitler. The word was used earlier in the year by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and was repeated on Wednesday by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Bachmann made the Hitler comparison concerning Obama’s policy toward Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying, “Again a madman is speaking and it seems the world is again not listening.”
At his brief White House news conference about his Iranian policy, Obama was asked what he means when he says that no options are off the table. The president responded, “No options off the table means I'm considering all options.” Asked to be more specific, he declined.
“But what I can say with respect to Iran, especially given the political noise out there, this administration has systemically imposed the toughest sanctions on ... Iran ever,” Obama said. He added, “When we came into office, the world was divided. Iran was unified and moving aggressively on its own agenda. Today, Iran is isolated and the world is unified in applying the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever experienced and it's having an impact inside Iran.”
He said Iran now “understands that they have a choice. They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and forswearing the development of nuclear weapons, which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power like every other country that's a member of the nonproliferation treaty. Or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world.”
Obama said he views Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as “contrary to the national-security interest of the United States and contrary to the national-security interests of our allies, including Israel, and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.”