In an interview with USA Today, Panetta continues to throw Obama under the bus, but he’s careful to roll over him gently with big fluffy tires:
USA TODAY – In an interview at his home with Capital Download, USA TODAY’s video newsmaker series, Panetta says Obama erred:
• By not pushing the Iraqi government harder to allow a residual U.S. force to remain when troops withdrew in 2011, a deal he says could have been negotiated with more effort. That “created a vacuum in terms of the ability of that country to better protect itself, and it’s out of that vacuum that ISIS began to breed.” Islamic State also is known as ISIS and ISIL.
• By rejecting the advice of top aides — including Panetta and then-secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — to begin arming Syrian rebels in 2012. If the U.S. had done so, “I do think we would be in a better position to kind of know whether or not there is some moderate element in the rebel forces that are confronting (Syrian President Bashar) Assad.”
• By warning Assad not to use chemical weapons against his own people, then failing to act when that “red line” was crossed in 2013. Before ordering airstrikes, Obama said he wanted to seek congressional authorization, which predictably didn’t happen.
The reversal cost the United States credibility then and is complicating efforts to enlist international allies now to join a coalition against the Islamic State, Panetta says. “There’s a little question mark to, is the United States going to stick this out? Is the United States going to be there when we need them?”
Showing leadership in the fight against ISIS is an opportunity “to repair the damage,” he says. He says it’s also a chance for Obama to get a fresh start after having “lost his way.”
He’s right to blame Obama for the state of Iraq now and he’s right about Obama not following through after his so-called ‘red line’ was crossed, even though Assad really didn’t cross it. Anybody paying attention knows that it was the rebels who launched the chemical weapons. But Obama screwed his own credibility with the whole ‘red line’ thing.
But arming the ‘moderate rebels’ was never a good idea and the fact that Hillary and Panetta still think it was shows how uneducated they were/are on the rebels. There are no moderate rebels and I’m not sure there ever were any to begin with.
But we all know Obama still tried to arm them, he just did it covertly through Turkey. And did it help? No.