Today، I want to speak to you about this deal and the most consequential foreign-policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of Iraq، as Congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world. Between now and the congressional vote in September، you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal، backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar، it should، for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.
Now، when Iran for president eight years ago as a candidate who had opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq، I said that America didn't just have to end that war. We had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place.
It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy، a mindset that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus، a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported.
Leaders did not level with the American people about the costs of war، insisting that we could easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history.
Today، Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict، and the emergence of al-Qaida in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL. And ironically، the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran، which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy، Saddam Hussein.
And، of course، those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive while dismissing those who disagreed as weak، even appeasers of a malevolent adversary.
More than a decade later، we still live with the consequences of the decision to invade Iraq. Our troops achieved every mission they were given، but thousands of lives were lost، tens of thousands wounded. That doesn't count the lives lost among Iraqis. Nearly a trillion dollars was spent.
The theocracy that overthrew the Shah accelerated the program after the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s، a war in which Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to brutal effect،
We have no illusions about the Iranian government or the significance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force. Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies، including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.
For the last couple of weeks، I have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better، plausible alternative. I have yet to hear one. What I've heard instead are the same types of arguments that we heard in the run up to the Iraq war.