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Panetta: Obama is to Blame for the Iraq Crisis

President Obama’s failure to leave any U.S. troops in Iraq has had cataclysmic ramifications. This is not just some minor mistake. It is a dereliction of duty and a failure of judgement, done in part for political motives, that will kill Americans.

In his upcoming memoir, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta makes the highly damning charge  that the White House resisted advice from all quarters of the U.S. military that U.S. forces remain in Iraq to help keep the country together, and that the White House then failed to make a serious effort to negotiate a troop presence with the Iraqis.

Panetta is highly credible. He was not just one of the few experienced adults in the Obama administration. He is a Democrat and a former Democratic politician who served as a member of the House.

Panetta Obama

Obama recently blamed Maliki for the failure to maintain a U.S. troop presence. Panetta’s book highlights the disingenuousness of this claim, showing that Maliki could have been budged but the White House failed to act. Further proof of Obama’s insincerity – and a buttressing of Panetta’s claim – has already been provided by the fact that Obama actually campaigned on the full removal of troops from Iraq, portraying it as a success.

From an excerpt of the book, carried by Time magazine. The moment Panetta is describing comes at the end of 2011, when the final U.S. troops were withdrawn. I’ve bolded some key phrases.

Now that the deadline was upon us, however, it was clear to me—and many others—that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability then barely holding Iraq together.

We had leverage. We could, for instance, have threatened to withdraw reconstruction aid to Iraq if al-Maliki would not support some sort of continued U.S. military presence. My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we’d seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq’s stability was not only in Iraq’s interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq’s military.

Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy did her best to press that position, which reflected not just my views but also those of the military commanders in the region and the Joint Chiefs. But the President’s team at the White House pushed back, and the differences occasionally became heated. Flournoy argued our case, and 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.

We debated with al-Maliki even as we debated among ourselves, with time running out. The clock wound down in December, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter continued to argue our case, extending the deadline for the Iraqis to act, hoping that we might pull out a last-minute agreement and recognizing that once our forces left, it would be essentially impossible for them to turn around and return. To my frustration, the White House coordinated the negotiations but never really led them. Officials there seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one, but without the President’s active advocacy, al-Maliki was allowed to slip away. The deal never materialized. 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.

One thing Panetta doesn’t mention here is that Obama was also offering only a token force of a few thousand troops, not enough to make it worth it for Maliki to spend the political capital to keep U.S. forces in the country. The military want 10,000-15,000 in country.

Megan Kelly tried to get at the insufficient offer during an interview with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki last night.

Here’s their spirited exchange. I have to say, I usually don’t let myself get too frustrated with press secretaries, since I know it’s their job to burnish the facts, shall we say. But watching Ms. Psaki smugly sit there denying all culpability while her boss’s policies have led to incalculable consequences is a lot to take.

We will be living with this debacle, which resulted directly in the rise of ISIS, for years to come.

And some of us will be dying from it.

44 Responses to Panetta: Obama is to Blame for the Iraq Crisis

  1. ” with time running out. The clock wound down in December”

    Obama, Dingy Harry, Pelosi, and Louise Slaughter are the poster children of the “four corners” basketball defense strategy of running time out to secure their results, not the nation’s bests interests.

  2. It is likely that many thousands of Americans will be killed as the result of Obama’s idiotic withdrawal from Iraq. Do not despair. Just think of it as an example of evolution in action. Since ISIS will target densely populated urban areas, the vast majority of the fatalities will be people who voted for Obama. The caranage will purge the voter registration rolls and cull the gene pool of useless idiots who are too stupid to be allowed to live much less vote.

    Of course the real threat is from an Ebola pandemic which Obama is enabling with his politically correct refusal to restrict travel to Africa as ther countries have done.

  3. Panetta is a credible voice.

    There is no coincidence in the publication of this book, and the increased coverage of his opposition to Obama, to the Clinton campaign.

    As much as I want to give credit where credit is due, the stink of political takes away.

    A time honored tradition — to serve and collect — then to write a book and collect — then to speak and collect — and finally to serve again and collect.

    Resignation on principle — old school.

    • Interesting thought that the Clintons might use surrogates to destroy the Obama regime so Hillary will still appear as a good little soldier for the Dem Party? Might be too late since the Obots are already pushing their next favorite empty (pant)suit candidate: Elizabeth Warren. You know, the gal who takes credit for the OWS movement. Lord help us.

  4. Excellent article Keith. However I can’t understand why Panetta didn’t shout at the top of his lungs months ago, that there was a big screw up! Than state, I do intend to write a book regarding this, however in the meantime let it be known, we are in trouble.
    Of course it could be worded a little better than the example I gave.

  5. I wish someone would wipe that #*%^ing smile off of her face. She always speaks with that smirk. Talk about JV, his entire staff is comprised of bench warmers on the JV bench.

    • I noted on a tread last night of her response/attitude last night as I watched the interview. The are millions of people that live are citizens of this Country. She sat and smiled…

    • Just because she and Marie have those jobs as spokespeople it does not mean they perform with any amount of capability or credibility. Don’t understand the new push to raise their credibility by putting them on talk shows — as if what they had to say was at all useful or informative.

      • Their just political hacks. Same as “dude” who was the van driver who wound up in the WH situation room the night of Benghazi even though the Commander in Chief was nowhere to be found.
        While I would yell at the TV at times watching Victoria Nuland, that was at least a differing of policy, the current Twit Twins deserve nothing but the scorn they receive.

        • Ah yes, what is Victoria up to these days? And what is Cheryl Mills up to? And is Huma still being paid by the State Department, i.e., us the taxpayers? Huma is definitely working for Clinton’s election, but what about the other two?

  6. Saw this interview last night live. Kelly was incredulous at the sophomoric replies that Psaki was giving. And beyond that, can someone tell Psaki to wipe that smirking smile off her face? This is serious stuff, we need serious discussion, not jovial chatter.

    Also, if you watch the end, Psaki tells Kelly it was “great” to be with you. Great? As in lets do the happy dance two step? And one final comment: they must train these state dept and fed spokespeople to reply in the same exact cadence…watch and listen to her: She almost always starts with ” Well Megyn,….” same thing with that other dingbat sorority gal.

    Sorry, its Friday, need to vent a bit….


  7. Good writeup. I am not a total Panetta fan, didn’t he kind of drop out of the flow sometimes, but we all know this is Amateur Hour and Obama is such a self-impressed smarty-pants he welcomes no advice.

  8. OT: officials looking into Ebola case of someone in Washington D.C.
    Hawaii, and Utah. Have not confirmed completely at this point.
    I am watching the show now on Fox. As they were speaking the woman on the show read a news update of the case in D.C.
    The D.C. case looks very well so far as Ebola.
    Now when is someone going to stop the flights from W. Africa?
    I understand that is not going to stop the fewer amount of people slipping though, by taking 2,3,5 different flights to different places to finally reach our shore.

    • If there really is a case in D.C. how do we get him across the fence and into the WH before they fix the security?
      Note to Secret Service, lawyers, and all the raving libs: That was a sarcastic JOKE not an actual threat against the joke that currently holds the office.

          • It is very difficult to come to grips with. Especially, I think, for anyone with even a smattering of historical perspective. We always took refuge in the corrective paths of our separation of powers, the Constitution and in the voice of the people. Those paths are corrupted and unavailable.

          • If you haven’t picked up a copy I suggest Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments. It’s probably the last hope we’ve got of a civil restoration of liberty and constraints upon the current federal leviathan.

          • The MSM shuts all his books down in a hurry with bad reviews. I’m thinking NYT and WaPo, that ilk. They do the same with Dinesh D’Souza’s books and movies.

          • I agree Geoff.
            After 911, like everyone else i was shocked and scared. However because of our leadership at that time, I felt we were strong and as a Nation that were brought together, and we would be OK! However even before this war/no war started I find myself feeling worse than after 911.
            No I am not making light of 911, I hope my point was understood.

  9. If Hillary Clinton AND Leon Panetta were people of character, they would have spoken out during the time and damn the consequences. Is Hillary Clinton going to run one more time on being the victim, this time of Obama?

  10. Megyn Kelly PWNED Jen Psaki in that interview. Jen may have kept smirking, but her silences after Megyn asked her tough questions were eloquent. she didn’t do herself–or Obama–any favors with her stonewalling.

    if Marie Harf wants to get mad again she can, but Bill O’Reilly was right: Psaki has absolutely no gravitas. she’s in waaaaaay over her head.

  11. Have not read comments yet. Wow. I am speechless. Jen seems to have cement poured into what brain she ever had. How…
    It just once again confirms that liberalism is a mental disorder.

  12. Panetta wants Hillary, thats why he’s doing this. Ugh Hillary, she is a friend of the Muslim Brotherhood with Huma whose parents are in the Muslim Brotherhood. If she is president this nightmare will never end. It will only get worse. Tonight I feel scared of the Ebola. Planes are coming to New York JFK tomorrow morning (Saturday)? And of course Obama would never stop them and he can. I hate Obama, he is truly power-mad, doesn’t give a damn about the Americans getting Ebola or our heads chopped off. He is so obvious. He should be kicked the hell out of office for not protecting Americans and treason. Any other white guy would have been a long time ago.