Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | Leon Panetta | ISIS | Obama | mistakes | war powers

Leon Panetta: US Can't 'Stand Aside' and Not Confront ISIS

By    |   Sunday, 15 February 2015 02:22 PM

Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama's former secretary of Defense and CIA director, dodged when asked if the Islamic State (ISIS) is winning in Iraq, but he said the United States can't defeat them by not confronting them.

The United States and its allies have a good chance of being able to push ISIS back out of Iraq, Panetta said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."  "The big question mark in my mind is Syria and just exactly how long is it going to take us to be able to confront ISIS in Syria, because if they had a safe haven there, they may continue to be in trouble for a long time.

"I think it's important to understand that this is not an enemy that you can kind of stand aside and not confront," he said.

Panetta hasn't been shy about offering honest assessments of his former boss' performance, even when it has angered the White House. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett has been critical of Panetta and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates for criticizing Obama in their respective books.

One of the "mistakes" Panetta said Obama made was not acting after Syrian President Basher Assad crossed a "red line" drawn by Obama of using chemical weapons in the country's three-way civil war.

The White House has challenged that, saying ISIS would have taken control of the country by now had Assad been removed from power.

Panetta said he doesn't buy that argument.

"You know, we are now conducting air attacks in Syria. We're going after ISIS," he said.

Panetta said he is glad Obama has asked for a authorization to use military force against ISIS, but said he should have done so six months earlier.

Turning to the controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner, Panetta said he would leave it up to individual Democrats whether to attend.

The White House and congressional Democrats are angry that Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting them first, saying the action was a breach of protocol. The prime minister will talk to Congress on March 3 about Congress' plan to vote on additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Panetta said he would like for Democrats to find a way to hear Netanyahu's views without having it be "what is clearly a kind of partisan presentation."

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Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama's former secretary of Defense and CIA director, dodged when asked if the Islamic State (ISIS) is winning in Iraq, but he said the United States can't defeat them by not confronting them. The United States and its allies have a good...
Leon Panetta, ISIS, Obama, mistakes, war powers, Syria, red line
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2015-22-15
Sunday, 15 February 2015 02:22 PM
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