Denouncing "chest-beating" critics, President Barack Obama told a veterans group Tuesday that those who oppose the diplomatic agreement to rein in Iran's nuclear program are some of the same people who were quick to want to go to war in Iraq and thought military action there would take only a matter of months.
"We're hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindsets that failed us in the past," Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. He argued that the Iran deal offers "a smarter, more responsible way to protect our national security."
Obama spoke one day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal with Iran. The White House is mounting a massive outreach campaign to try to win over skeptics and avert a congressional attempt to scuttle the deal, dispatching top officials daily to television shows and Capitol Hill.
Obama told his audience there was "a lot of shaky information out there" about the deal, and he seemed eager to push back.
"The same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program are the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would only take a few months," Obama said.
He said his administration had "done the hard and patient work of uniting the international community to meet a common threat. Instead of chest-beating that rejects the idea of talking to our adversaries, which sometimes sounds good in sound bites but accomplishes nothing, we're seeing that strong, principled diplomacy can give hope of actually resolving a problem peacefully, instead of rushing into another conflict."
From Pittsburgh, Obama was hopping a quick flight to New York to tape one of Jon Stewart's final episodes of the "The Daily Show," where the Iran deal was once again likely to be a key topic of conversation. The White House also created a new Twitter account, @TheIranDeal, to make its case for the agreement.
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In his speech to the veterans, Obama also highlighted a federal rule he's finalizing on predatory lending and the military to make the case to the VFW that he's working to make things better for America's military families.
The new rule, Obama said, would crack down on lenders who are "exploiting loopholes to trap our troops."
Obama also addressed the persisting problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been under intense scrutiny for more than a year over waitlists and other shortcomings in the VA health system. Last week, the VA said it is unable to count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care, and said it may have to close some hospitals if Congress does not address a $2.5 billion shortfall.
Obama said that while significant progress has been made at the troubled agency, "We've got to acknowledge our work is not done. We still have a big challenge" to keep up with the surge in veterans seeking care.
"We're not going to let up," he promised.
The military community has also been on edge over the killing of four Marines and a sailor last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Obama has pledged a prompt and thorough investigation into an attack that authorities have blamed on a 24-year-old Kuwait-born man, and Obama said the nation was drawing strength from Chattanooga while sending an unmistakable message that the U.S. won't give in to fear or attempts to change the American way of life.
Obama issued an order Tuesday to lower the White House flag to half-staff in remembrance of those killed, following similar moves at the U.S. Capitol and even by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Obama's visit to Pittsburgh comes five years to the day after he signed the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial regulation overhaul that created the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Republicans have continued to work to repeal major portions of the law, but Obama served notice that he will "not accept any effort to roll back this law."
After taping "The Daily Show," Obama planned to raise money for Senate Democrats at a private home in New York City before returning late Tuesday to Washington.