Former Defense Security Leon Panetta has pinned the blame on Obama for Iraq’s current situation.
He argues that, if troop levels in Iraq had not been completely reduced, the situation with the Islamic State in Iraq would not be what it is today.
Panetta writes in his upcoming autobiography:
“To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country.”
Obama announced in 2011 that virtually all of the 39,000 troops then present should depart from Iraq by the end of the year. Panetta lobbied against this policy, contending that a small number of American troops left behind could help train the Iraqi military. As Panetta writes:
“Those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.”
He also says that his views were shared by military commanders in the region as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Panetta also wrote about ISIS and the potential for al-Qaeda to flare up again in Iraq:
“The news from Iraq bothered me to no end. In my view, the ISIS offensive in 2014 greatly increases the risk that Iraq will become al-Qaeda’s next safe haven. That is exactly what it had in Afghanistan pre-9/11. After all we have done to decimate al-Qaeda’s senior leadership and its core, those efforts will be for naught if we allow it to rebuild a base of operations in the Middle East.”
Who do you think was right in this situation, Obama or Panetta? Or should something entirely different have been done?