As tensions escalate throughout the Middle East, President Obama is reiterating his commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, he is also seemingly brushing off pressure to identify a clear "line" the country cannot cross as "noise" that he is going to "block out."
That pressure is largely coming from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has for weeks been attempting to elicit a clear response on exactly what point it is acceptable to act to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: "You're saying you don't feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand...?"
The president responded:
"When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence." [Emphasis added]
Obama also responded to Mitt Romney's criticism of his foreign policy as "a policy of paralysis," saying: "If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so."
Here is video, via The Weekly Standard:
Mitt Romney, who was also interviewed on CBS Sunday, said Obama's decision not to meet with Netanyahu "is a mistake, and sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends..."
Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul added:
“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East... As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.” [Emphasis added]
In another clip from the interview, Obama says he knew there would be "bumps in the road" in the transition to democracy for so-called Arab Spring countries, but that we made the right decision to ally ourselves with those supporting "universal rights":
Israel is not the only target for the Iranian regime, if the country's leaders are to be taken at their word. In the last few days, they have demonstrated a willingness to pull the entire world into conflict.
Iran has issued multiple threats against the United States in particular, saying they will attack our bases, close the straight of Hormuz, and even start World War III if they believe Israel is preparing to strike.
In their estimation, the actions of the United States and Israel are inseparable, and Israel would never attack without U.S. consent.
"Nothing is predictable... and it will turn into World War III," a senior commander of the country's Revolutionary Guard reportedly warned.