Speaking at the annual convention of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Atlanta on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden made the case that Obama’s strategies regarding the Iranian nuclear program have worked, but said the decision to strike must be Israel’s.
“I would not contract out my security to anybody, even a loyal, loyal, loyal friend like the United States,” Biden said.
The Vice President also stressed the effectiveness of the Obama Administration’s diplomatic campaign against Iran, saying that “by going the extra diplomatic mile, presenting Iran with a clear choice, we demonstrated to the region and the world that Iran is the problem, not the United States.”
In Biden’s view, the Obama Administration had to regain the international clout that had been lost by the GW Bush administration, in order to be effective against Iran.
“When we took office, let me remind you, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran,” Biden continued. “We were the problem, we were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region, in Europe. We were neither fully respected by our friends nor feared by our opponents. Today it is starkly, starkly different.”
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign on Tuesday attacked Biden, calling his comments “reckless” and criticizing the Obama administration for “all too often” blaming America first, making the case that Biden’s criticisms of Bush were an insult to the country.
“Biden’s reckless statement today blaming America for – of all things – the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has reached a new low,” said Romney policy director Lanhee Chen. “The problem is not America. It is the ayatollahs who oppress their people.”
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Fox News that “Iran was the problem then and it is the problem now. It’s foolishly misguided for the vice president to blame anyone or any country other than Iran.”
Vice President Biden said that Israel still has time to strike Iran and it must decide for herself whether to do so.
He added: “The window has not closed in terms of the Israelis if they choose to act on their own militarily.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has suggested that Israel has until the fall to strike; the Obama Administration has been pressing Israel to give time for sanctions and diplomacy to work.
Biden also said that Israel’s perception of Iran as an existential threat was “justifiable.” He warned Iran that its window was closing for a diplomatic way out of its isolation because of its suspected nuclear weapons program.
The vice president also called efforts to delegitimize Israel “the most significant assault” on Israel since its independence.
On Tuesday, the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency said that talk of Iran’s intention to develop nuclear weapons is based on “unreliable” and “fake” evidence.
Content from a JTA report was used in this article.