Pittenger: Obama ‘the Neville Chamberlain of our day’

Published: Feb. 18, 2015 at 4:00 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - After a meeting with the Israeli prime minister Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger called Benjamin Netanyahu "the Winston Churchill of our day" and President Barack Obama "the Neville Chamberlain."

The Charlotte Republican accused the president of appeasement in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.

"Benjamin Netanyahu is the Winston Churchill of our day, warning the world about Iran," Pittenger said. "President Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our day, in seemingly total denial of the enormous risk and … (how vulnerable) we are to their nuclear capabilities."

Chamberlain, the British prime minister at the start of World War II, agreed to give a piece of Czechoslovakia in 1938 to Nazi Germany. The deal was meant to stave off war and was hailed by Chamberlain as bringing peace. Germany launched World War II a year later.

Churchill succeeded Chamberlain in 1940 and led the country successfully through the Battle of Britain.

Pittenger, who chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, traveled to Israel with fellow GOP Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida. Their meeting with the prime minister came two weeks before Netanyahu's scheduled speech to Congress.

During an hourlong meeting, the Americans and Netanyahu talked about the ongoing threat from Iran.

Last week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran's goal in its negotiations over its nuclear program was a "win-win" outcome. Some analysts saw that as a signal that Iran stood ready to compromise.

Tehran is negotiating with United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain. The deadline for a basic framework is the end of March. The final deadline is June 30.

Pittenger, in a phone interview, said he had little hope for the talks.

"Every day that goes by they increase their capabilities," he said of Iran. "In the meantime the president seems to be fully committed to writing an agreement that would leave us very exposed. Frankly, the best of agreements could break. …

"I think President Obama is seemingly in denial like Neville Chamberlain. And he's appeased and waited and believed Iran would operate in good faith. There's no basis whatsoever to believe Iran will operate in good faith."