Former Democratic Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, was grilled by Bill O’Reilly in a hard hitting interview last night. The interview was centered around Obama’s leadership ability and whether or not he has the gusto to step up and truly fight ISIS with the full weight of the US military.
Judging by Panetta’s responses to most of O’Reilly’s questions, it’s safe to say Obama is more Neville Chamberlain-esque than Churchill.
Panetta was one of the most powerful men in the US when he served under Obama, and he is viewed by both Republicans and Democrats as an amicable bipartisan leader.
Judging by some of Panetta’s answers last night, he clearly disagrees with Obama’s handling of Iraq, Syria and Russia.
In the interview, O’Reilly states that Obama made a “colossal blunder” by not leaving troops in Iraq, and he asks Panetta if that’s a fair statement. Panetta responded,
There’s no question that not maintaining a troop presence in Iraq, so that we could continue the momentum towards trying to secure that country, and try to hope that it could govern itself in the right way, I think was a mistake. No question.”
O’Reilly responded with, “This is a colossal blunder that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people because ISIS is now expanded throughout Syria and Iraq and, even today, is slaughtering people.”
Panetta explained that he told Obama the US needed to maintain at least 10,000 troops in Iraq. He also mentioned that Hillary Clinton and the head of the CIA agreed. Nevertheless, the troops were brought home on Obama’s command.
Panetta insinuates that Obama did support the idea of keeping troops in Iraq, at least conceptually, but he didn’t fight hard enough to actually make it happen.
Panetta says ISIS’ rise in Iraq is an Obama policy failure, not simply an intelligence community failure like some have reported.
Panetta went on to say “…this is a President who I think wants to do the right thing for the country. The real question is whether or not he is willing to fight to get that done.”
In respect to the United States’ enemies, Panetta believes they are getting a mixed message as to whether or not America will stand by its word… obviously, we know Russia, Iran and Syria don’t take the Obama Administration too seriously.
I’ll speculate here that Panetta is planning to reenter the White House in a powerful role, perhaps as Secretary of Defense again, if Hillary Clinton wins in 2016. By distancing himself from many of Obama’s foreign policy blunders, he is setting the stage to do so. After all, he served as Bill’s Chief of Staff for several years. After watching this interview, Panetta’s allegiance is clear – it’s with the Clintons.