Last week at American University, Barack Obama gave one of the most important foreign policy speeches of his presidency. In it, he laid out his detailed argument for supporting the Iran nuclear deal. The president offered a veritable legal brief on why the deal makes the most sense for U.S. national security interests, why it’s better than any alternative, why its critics are wrong and why the agreement builds on a “tradition of strong, principled diplomacy” in U.S. foreign policy.
But beyond that, Obama’s speech did something with even greater implications. It highlighted the widening dividing line between Democrats and Republicans on a much broader and more consequential national security issue: the use of military force.
Unfortunately, that message has been largely obscured by the dog-whistle nature of the American political debate over Iran, illustrated in this case by the now oft-heard charge that Obama was flirting with anti-Semitism in the address.