Obama To Hit Iran Hard at U.N.

Tough Talk Aimed Partially at Appeasing Netanyahu

Next Stop, U.N. President Obama heads to the United Nations, where he will warn Iran that it must end its drive for a nuclear weapon.
getty images
Next Stop, U.N. President Obama heads to the United Nations, where he will warn Iran that it must end its drive for a nuclear weapon.

By Reuters

Published September 25, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

President Barack Obama will warn Iran on Tuesday that the United States will “do what we must” to prevent it acquiring a nuclear weapon, and appeal to world leaders for a united front against further attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Muslim countries.

Preparing to take the podium at the United Nations six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Obama hopes to counter criticism of his foreign record by Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has accused him of mishandling the Arab Spring uprisings, damaging ties with Israel and not being tough enough on Iran.

Seeking to step up pressure on Iran, Obama will tell the U.N. General Assembly that there is still time for a diplomacy but that “time is not unlimited,” according to advance excerpts of his speech, due to begin sometime around 1315 GMT.

His tough talk appears aimed at easing Israeli concerns about U.S. resolve to curb Tehran’s nuclear drive, as he reasserts before the world body that he will never let Iran develop an atomic bomb and then simply contain the problem.

But he will stop short of meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to set a clear “red line” that Iran must not cross if it is to avoid military action.

“A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” he will say. “It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy …

“The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Obama is also seeking to reassure voters that he is doing everything he can to head off any more violence like the Sept. 11 attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues.

MUSLIM ANGER

A wave of Muslim anger over a crude anti-Islam video made in California has swept the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Americans were stunned by images of U.S. flags again burning in the Muslim world, the focus of intense personal diplomacy by the president at the start of his term.

“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded,” Obama will tell the assembled world leaders.

This eruption of violence has confronted Obama with the worst setback yet in his efforts to keep the Arab Spring revolutions from turning against the United States - and has demonstrated that he has few easy options.

In his speech, he has the delicate task of articulating U.S. distaste for insults to any religion while at the same time insisting there is no excuse for a violent reaction - a distinction rejected by many Muslims.

The crisis has exposed a deep divide over the issues of free speech and blasphemy at a time when Islamist forces are in the political ascendant in the Middle East after several veteran dictators were ousted.

“Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations,” Obama will say.

Obama is not expected to offer detailed solutions to an array of crises that threaten to chip away at a foreign policy record that his aides hoped would be immune from Republican attack.

ELECTION THE PRIORITY

With campaign pressures building in a close race, Obama’s final turn on the world stage before facing voters has left little doubt about his immediate priorities.

He skipped the customary one-on-one meetings with foreign counterparts but went ahead with the taping of a campaign-style appearance on the popular television talk-show “The View” - a trade-off that drew Republican criticism.

Obama planned to be in and out of New York in 24 hours and off to the election battleground state of Ohio on Wednesday.

Despite Obama’s international woes, administration officials are heartened by Romney’s own recent foreign policy stumbles and doubt that the president’s critics will gain traction in a campaign that remains focused mainly on the U.S. economy.

In addition, the White House never tires of touting the killing of Osama bin Laden and the ending of the Iraq war as Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments.

Nevertheless, the unsettled climate surrounding Obama’s U.N. visit will be a stark reminder that the heady optimism that greeted him when he took office, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize within months, has now cooled.

Obama’s early overtures to Iran were rejected, and the expansion of Tehran’s nuclear program, which it says is purely peaceful, has created tension between Washington and Israel, which sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.

Netanyahu has indicated impatience over Obama’s entreaties to hold off on attacking Iran’s nuclear sites to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.

Underscoring the depth of the problem, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in New York on Monday that Israel had no roots in the Middle East and would be “eliminated.”

The White House dismissed his comments as “disgusting.”

Despite that, the unusually public dispute between the United States and Israel has been exacerbated by Obama’s decision not to meet with Netanyahu on his U.S. visit later this week, a move that risks alienating some pro-Israel voters.

Signaling resentment at Netanyahu’s tactics, Obama told CBS’s “60 Minutes” he would ignore “noise that’s out there.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.