The fight against the Islamic State group (ISIS) will be difficult and could last decades due to decisions made by President Barack Obama, former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has said.
“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war” that could extend to threats in Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, Panetta told USA Today in a story published Monday.
Panetta, a respected policymaker who served under Obama, blamed the challenges on decisions the president made over the past three years.
Among those decisions, he cited Obama’s failure to push the Iraqi government hard enough to allow a residual US force to stay in the country after troops withdrew in 2011, saying that created a security “vacuum.”
The former defense secretary also pointed to Obama’s rejection of advice in 2012 from Panetta and then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton to begin arming Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad.
“I do think we would be in a better position to kind of know whether or not there is some moderate element in the rebel forces that are confronting Assad,” Panetta said.
And Panetta said Obama lost credibility when he warned Assad not to use chemical weapons against his own people and then failed to act when the Syrian leader crossed that “red line” last year.
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