In addressing AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, President Obama on Sunday said he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and would act — militarily, if necessary — to prevent that from happening.
At the same time the president was making those comments, approximately 40 or so Occupy Tampa members and others gathered at the four corners of Dale Mabry & Gandy in South Tampa, a short distance from MacDill Air Force Base, to demand that the U.S. not get involved in another Middle East conflict.
Dunedin resident James Cox, who helped organize the rally, insisted that despite all of the media hype, it's not a proven fact that Iran is on its way to building the capacity for a nuclear weapon. He also said it was hypocritical for the West to deny Iran the capacity to build such a weapon, considering the U.S., Israel and numerous other nations already have the bomb.
"We're protesting here today that you can't put a cost on a human life, and it's genocide. These wars are racist, and the real terrorists are in the government," Cox sneered.
Tarpon Springs resident Fatima Hamilton held a sign that read "How 'bout no more bloodshed?" "It's starting to scare me," she said of the rising talk of potential military action in the Middle East.
As the New York Times reported on Sunday, recent assessments by American spy agencies have reaffirmed intelligence findings in 2007 and 2010 that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program.
Occupy Tampa activist Bobby Ali said he can't believes he's seen and read so much concern about something (Iran's nuclear capacity) that might not exist. "We might have a nuclear war in the future, so let's have a nuclear war now?" he asked, questioning the rationale for talk of Israel and/or the U.S. attacking Iran.
But since he was first elected in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had commented on several occasions that he'd be delighted to see Israel "erased from the geographical scene," causing extreme concern in Israel and among their friends throughout the world that if Iran had the capacity, it wouldn't hesitate to use it.
Then again, Ahmadinejad's powers may be more limited than they previously were after losing badly in parliamentary elections held this weekend in Iran.
One place where there doesn't seem to be much opposition to the U.S. talking or acting tougher against Iran is in the U.S. Congress. In fact, in the U.S. Senate, there seems to be unity with members of both parties urging President Obama to keep the pressure on Iran.
Hours before the president spoke to AIPAC, two members of the Congress' upper chamber, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, both called on Obama to talk tougher on the subject, as explained to Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Senator Graham, what does President Obama say to Prime Minister Netanyahu to reassure him?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: That I am committed to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, not only in words but in deeds. That if necessary, we'll use military force. And they need a common definition of what change — what kind of change were to be acceptable in Iran's part.
WALLACE: Meaning the red line — how far they're willing to allow Iran to go?
GRAHAM: There needs to be a common definition conveyed privately to Iran so they'll know what they need to do.
WALLACE: Senator Blumenthal, does President Obama need to go farther than he has so far in reassuring the Israelis?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: I think he needs to give a more specific and muscular content to the formulaic expression that's been used again and again and again, all options were on the table, to say that containment is not an option. Not a nuclear armed Iran — all the reasons he stated so powerfully in the interview that he gave recently with Jeff Goldberg — is simply unacceptable because it would destabilize the Middle East, it would create access for terrorist to nuclear arms and it would make the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox. And that's the kind of passion and specificity that he needs to bring to this conversation now.