In a March 7, 2012 press conference, his first of the year, U.S. President Barack Obama took aim at the two front-runners for the Republican nomination for president. He took umbrage at the tone of comments they've made on a potential war with Iran.
"When I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do," Obama said at the White House. "It turns out that they would repeat the things that we've been doing over the last three years."
Earlier in the day the U.S. joined with a consortium of world powers, including Britain and France, Germany and other European countries, Russia and China, to offer to Iran the opportunity to return to the negotiating table to resolve the issue of their nuclear program. Both leaders of the GOP race, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, were critical of the Obama administration's decision.
Romney and Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, have in particular been the Republican candidates that have been critical of the handling of Iran by Obama, but neither Romney or Santorum have been specific about what they might do were they given the reigns to make a move. They have, however, implied that they would take America to war with Iran.
Romney, Santorum: strike at Iran now
Romney said "the only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it," suggesting he would attack Iran, but he did not say so directly. Santorum, meanwhile, said that the offer to return to negotiating is nothing more than "another appeasement, another delay, another opportunity for them to go forward (with their nuclear program) while we talk."
Obama responded to the tenure of those comments in part by criticizing the "casualness" of their approach to war, calling it dangerous and charging that they are combining politicking with foreign policy, in effect posturing for votes over an issue of grave import. He said that with his position comes the responsibility of sending soldiers to war and that is something he must keep uppermost in mind.
"Those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities, they're not commander in chief," Obama noted. "And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I am reminded of the costs involved in war. I'm reminded that 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. This is not a game. There's nothing casual about it."
U.S.: Iran can produce nuclear weapons
U.S. intelligence does not believe Iran has nuclear weapons but believes they have the ability to build them. Iran claims their nuclear program is peaceful. Obama and his administration are putting faith in the idea that another round of talks aimed at convincing Iran to give up its nuclear program is prudent before taking the step of force.
"I don't expect a breakthrough in a first meeting, but I think we will have a pretty good sense fairly quickly as to how serious they are about resolving the issue. We have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically.
"We are going to continue to apply pressure even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through where they can rejoin the community of nations."