- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

President Obama says the deal to ease economic sanctions against Iran is better than going to war to stop Tehran from building a nuclear weapon.

At a Democratic fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., late Monday night, the president defended the pact to wealthy liberal supporters at the home of Haim Saban, an Israeli-American entertainment mogul with a net worth of more than $3 billion.

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the deal with Iran “an historic mistake,” Mr. Obama said the agreement is “good for Israel.”

“We may be able through peaceful, diplomatic means [to] remove this cloud that has hovered over the Middle East and had the potential and continues to have the potential of triggering a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s the right thing to do.”

Critics in Congress say that the administration is giving up too much in sanctions and that the pact doesn’t go far enough to prevent Iran from continuing to work on nuclear weapons. Mr. Obama said that although he hasn’t ruled out military action to stop Iran from building a bomb, a diplomatic effort is “what the times demand.”

“I spend too much time at Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center], looking at kids 22, 23, 24, 25 years old, who’ve paid the kind of price that very few of us in this room can imagine on behalf of our freedom not to say I’m going to do every single thing that I can to try to resolve these issues without resorting to military conflict,” he said at the fundraiser. “And that’s what you should expect from me as president of the United States. That’s what the times demand.”

The president said the accord has nothing to do with politics, an apparent reference to critics who accuse the administration of being too eager to strike a deal in a year filled with bad news for the White House.

“This is not politics; these are not games,” Mr. Obama said. “And the stakes are extraordinarily high. And [when] we make decisions like the one we made, we don’t make them based on political expedience; we don’t make them on the basis of what might make a good headline today or tomorrow. We make them on the basis of our judgment — my judgment — about what we need to do to keep America safe.”

Among the supporters at the event to benefit Democratic congressional candidates were actors Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Paul Reiser; music producer Berry Gordy; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The president attended another big-money fundraiser Monday night at the Beverly Hills home of former NBA star Magic Johnson. Guests at that event included actors Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton.

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