Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina and top strategist David Axelrod explained to reporters this week that their candidate, unlike his likely Republican rival Mitt Romney, does not have the luxury to campaign 24/7 because he has a job he was elected to do. But Vice President Joe Biden is already several weeks deep into campaigning. On Thursday, he spoke at a campaign event at New York University, promoting and defending the Obama administration's foreign policy.
"If you're looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," he announced.
A large part of his speech was focused on Iran: "Loose talk about a war has incredible negative consequences in our efforts to end Iran's nuclear quest," Biden warned. "And let me tell you why: Because it unsettles world oil markets. It drives up oil prices. When oil prices go up, Iran's coffers fill up, undermining the impact of the sanctions that are in existence. This kind of Romney talk is just not smart. President Obama has said, and I quote, "now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built."
But the phrase that is likely to turn into an immediate YouTube hit was: "Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: 'speak softly and carry a big stick.'" I promise you the President has a big stick. I promise you" - ignoring the students' laughter.
"No country is more concerned about a nuclear Iran than Israel, and rightly so," he continued. "And no president since Harry Truman has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama," Biden said, listing the U.S. assistance to fund the Iron Dome missile interception system and development of longer range Arrow and David's Sling missile defense systems, tying Israel into the U.S. early warning radar system, and the close cooperation and consultation between the U.S. and Israel's top officials and military commanders.
"President Obama has stood up to what is I think the gravest threat to Israel, the effort of the rest of the world to delegitimize it as a state and I might add, often stood up alone in fighting the effort to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations and other international organizations - single vetoes", he said. "Israel's leaders have called President Obama's support for and cooperation with Israel 'unprecedented.' Governor Romney though, said relations between the United States and Israel had 'hit a low' and went on to accuse President Obama of 'throwing Israel under the bus.' That's just one in a long litany of untruths about our administration's policy toward Israel uttered by Governor Romney and repeatedly debunked by reporters, policy experts, fact checkers across the country - and maybe most convincingly debunked by Israeli leaders."
Biden went on to attack Romney's position on Iran. "Governor Romney has called for what he calls for a 'very different policy' on Iran. But for the life of me, it's hard to understand what the Governor means by a very different policy. He says we need 'crippling sanctions' - apparently unaware that through President Obama's leadership, we have produced just that. He emphasizes the need for 'a credible military option' and a 'regular presence of aircraft carrier groups' in the region - apparently ignorant of the fact that's exactly what our policy is and what we're doing. The only step we could take that we aren't already taking is to launch a war against Iran. If that's what Governor Romney means by a very different policy, he should tell the American people. Otherwise, the Governor's tough talk about military action is just that - talk. And I would add counterproductive talk."
The U.S.-Israel military cooperation is rarely questioned - however, some members of Congress are worried about the recent leaks related precisely to that cooperation. 21 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama, calling him to order an investigation into possible leaks of sensitive information.
The letter refers specifically to two articles - by the "New York Times", that was published last month, on scenarios and conclusions of a classified war simulation conducted by United States Central Command aimed to predict possible outcome of an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities; and the "Foreign Policy" magazine, a week later, revealing that Israel had been granted secret access to airbases in Azerbaijan near Iran’s northern border which would be used to launch strikes in the event of an Israeli operation against Iran (that was denied by Azerbaijan.
The congressmen argued in their letter that "these leaks undermine our national security, as well as Israel’s ability to defend itself against the multitude of threats that seek to jeopardize Israel’s sovereignty and destabilize the region. There are some who believe that these leaks are intended to selectively release sensitive information about Israel’s military, intelligence, and operational capabilities which may, in turn, undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself. Whether the leaks are intentional or not, they weaken U.S. and Israeli national security, strengthen Iran’s defensive posture, and put American and Israeli lives at risk. These leaks not only violate U.S. law, but they send a chilling message to our allies around the world.... We urge you to take immediate action to ensure such leaks do not continue to threaten our national security and Israel’s self-defense capabilities."
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