Right Hooks

Obama's SecDef Panetta Now: We Need to Be in Iraq Long-Term?

Five years ago, however, he didn't do much to oppose the politically motivated withdrawal from the Middle East.

Mark Alexander · Jun. 29, 2017

This week, Barack Obama’s former secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, offered a rare and candid reassessment of Obama’s disastrous 2012 election charade — declaring “victory in Iraq” and withdrawing our forces, all in order to keep a 2008 campaign promise.

In 2008, as we have noted, Obama skewered his opponent, John McCain, for asserting we needed to maintain a presence in Iraq “for 100 years.” McCain was implying that our presence in the region, establishing forward operating bases, would ensure stability and be in the best interest of our national security. McCain was correct.

This week, five years too late, Panetta, who quietly expressed his concerns about Obama’s 2012 election-motivated declaration of victory in Iraq, offered this 20/20 hindsight: “I think the United States is going to have to have a long-term presence both in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we are to maintain stability there.”

To paraphrase, we need to be in the region “for 100 years.”

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump asserted that Obama and Hillary Clinton were responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. When prompted to backtrack that statement, Trump reaffirmed, “I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. … I give him the Most Valuable Player award. I give it [to Hillary] too.” Trump was absolutely correct. (Recall Obama’s 2015 claim regarding ISIL — “We’ve contained them.”)

Obama and Clinton, in effect, did create the Islamic State. Between 2009 and 2012, the Obama/Clinton policies in the Middle East, ending Operation Iraqi Freedom and retreating, indisputably gave rise to the Islamic Caliphate, which resulted in the Middle East meltdown. They unleashed an epic humanitarian crisis across the region, and an epidemic of terrorism metastasizing west. That blood and suffering is on the hands of Obama and Clinton — and Panetta for not resigning in protest over the 2012 withdrawal from Iraq.

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