Over the last week, I have found my mind reaching back – and in this case, it was VERY far back – to that longago era when Americans spoke seriously of peace.

Oh, not peace as a bumper slogan or a banner for a march or even as a serious Quaker tenet of the faith. No, I can remember reading in school about the end of World War I, which was to be the “war to end wars,” and about World War II, when the brilliance of our postwar reconstruction and establishment of international organizations was, at heart, an attempt to bring a workable peace to the world.

It was perhaps not surprising, but certainly deeply disappointing to see, after his brilliant, nearly hour-long speech at American University, the degree to which President Obama has been criticized for speaking with legitimate emotion about the creative power of diplomacy, the handmaiden of peace, above the convulsive power of war.

Listen to the president’s words once again: “I have been consistent in my broad view of how American power should be deployed, and the view that we underestimate our power when we restrict it to just our military power.”

He astutely argued that none other than Democrat John Kennedy and nearly beatified Republican Ronald Reagan had also annoyed “parts of the foreign policy establishment,” which called them feckless for engaging the Soviet Union diplomatically – Kennedy with Moscow on a landmark nuclear test ban treaty in 1963, and Reagan with Gorbachev in ending the Cold War during the late 1980s.

“If Congress kills this deal,” Obama went on, “we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear deal or the sanctions we have painstakingly built. We will have lost something more precious – America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy. America’s credibility is the anchor of the international system.”

But the part of the speech that drew immediate criticism from Republican candidates like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, and even from Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, came when the president averred, in words strong for him, that “many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”

Actually, this is no secret. Some of the major proponents of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, like Paul Wolfowitz, are already working for Jeb’s campaign. And remember, it was the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 that upset the balance of power in the Middle East and made Iran a major player again.

Nor is there any question that a large percentage of the backing for the fight against the Iranian nuclear deal is coming from Israel and from its spokes-organization here, AIPAC. As The New York Times reported in a recent frontpage story, the president met with two leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee just before the American University speech and warned them that he would “hit back hard.”

Through AIPAC and its offshoots, the Times reported, at least $25 million in advertising against the deal was given for television spots in New York City. Since AIPAC and much of the American Jewish community are in sync with what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, and since he is fervently against the deal, the White House, for its part, is seriously aggrieved by this special opposition.

Other critical commentators have declared that they have never seen a foreign country take such an active role in attempting to defeat an American diplomatic measure, particularly one so important to a sitting president who has showered Israel with armaments.

Which brings up the next question: If the deal is passed by Congress in September, then the next years can most probably be expected to be characterized by endless squabbling between Iran and the outer world over details of inspection, over amounts of money given to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and over the role of the Iranian-supported Shiite militias in Iraq.

But what if the deal is NOT passed? What, then, do its perfervid opponents propose in its stead?

Here we have a curious development, indeed. They do not have any proposals! They can only oppose, only point and say “nyah nyah” in several languages, only call Barack Obama names.

“War with Iran?” they ask. “Surely you jest.” And yet, without the deal, it would be a real possibility. Israel might well bomb Iran’s nuclear capacities, and the U.S. would be called upon to clean up the mess. Sabotage inside Iran could set off any number of disasters. And the ayatollahs would be enormously strengthened because there would be no restraints whatsoever.

So, which is it? For me … have I given enough hints?

—Georgie Anne Geyer has been a foreign correspondent and commentator on international affairs for more than 40 years. She can be reached at gigi_ [email protected]