Panetta slams Obama on Iraq: President ignored advice, failed to use leverage to secure SOFA

PanettaFormer Defense Secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta allowed Time magazine to print an excerpt from his new book, “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace,” and in it he offers a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration’s decision to let a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq slip through its fingers.

Mr. Panetta writes:

Privately, the various leadership factions in Iraq all confided that they wanted some U.S. forces to remain as a bulwark against sectarian violence. But none was willing to take that position publicly, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki concluded that any Status of Forces Agreement, which would give legal protection to those forces, would have to be submitted to the Iraqi parliament for approval. That made reaching agreement very difficult given the internal politics of Iraq, but representatives of the Defense and State departments, with scrutiny from the White House, tried to reach a deal.

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. …

Under Secretary of Defense Michèle 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.

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.

In short, the guy who billed himself as the diplomat extraordinaire got everyone around the table and said, “How do you guys want to do this? Not sure? Okay. Well, see you later!

While the urge to accuse Mr. Panetta of trying to safeguard his reputation is strong, consider this: President Obama — who flippantly called Islamic State a “J.V. team” as they were gobbling up Iraq — is the type of guy who will go on “60 Minutes” and throw the entire intelligence community under the bus, despite incontrovertible evidence that the intelligence community was ringing the alarm bells in his face.

The Washington Post reported Sept. 30:

Reporters quickly noticed that there were warnings, aired publicly many months ago, about the capabilities and intentions of the Islamic State. Should it really have been a surprise?

The paper goes on to cite warnings from Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, from Nov. 14, 2013, Gen. Michael Flynn, U.S. Army director, Defense Intelligence Agency, on Feb. 11, 2014, and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers from Sept. 18, 2014. Then, in true Post fashion, it cannot bring itself to give Mr. Obama a “Pinocchio,” — it went with “Verdict Pending” — despite its own reporting that confirms he lied on national television.

Is the verdict still “pending” now that Mr. Obama’s hand-picked former CIA Director has publicly stated that the president chose to ignore the advice of a gigantic wall of agreement between the military and intelligence communities on Iraq and Syria? The Washington Post’s exercise in doublethink is astounding — it essentially says “This and this and this and this and this prove the president is lying — the president is not lying.”

If you were watching the “60 Minutes” interview and thought, “How does the president get away with this?” look no further than the type of news outlets that resort to some variation of “These are not the drones you are looking for” any time the president’s credibility is truly threatened.

Media that refuse to hold the president accountable are culpable for the consequences of their obfuscation. Every time they write the equivalent of “verdict pending” on the president when it is not, their credibility is corroded. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only victims. Without a free and honest press, the nation hollows itself out from within.

No one will admit the obvious: We are at war with Iran

Stuxnet was a cyberweapon used against a regime that has attacked the civilized world for years. The problem is, no one has the courage to admit the truth: We are at war.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is on a five day trip throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Along the way he’s found time to state the obvious: Sanctions have done squat to change the Iranians’ desire for nukes. Let me repeat that again: Squat.

However, like most administrations, he then follows up the truth with an attempt to obscure it:

“What we all need to do is to continue the pressure on Iran, economically and diplomatically … to negotiate and to ultimately do what’s right in joining the international family,” [said Panetta].

After throwing up a little after the bit about joining the “international family” (How many families do you know that stone their women?) I was saddened because it’s obvious that this will all end militarily.Why? Because military operations have been going on for quite some time, even if media and politicians refuse to acknowledge that we’re at war.

What do you think Stuxnet was, my friends? That was a big, fat cyberweapon meant to slow down the creation of a big, fat nuclear weapon. It was an act of war perpetrated on a regime that has committed countless acts of war against free nations for decades with impunity — killing American servicemen on foreign soil by supplying weapons, training and cash to its proxy agents around the globe.

I’ve written before on how the world is living in its own little Christopher Nolan film, Memento, on the Iranian problem, but as the “oh crap, this is real” moment approaches, it’s worth repeating. The reason for writing this now is because three scenarios are likely to unfold:

  1. Israel strikes Iran with conventional weapons before the presidential election. Despite having a Nobel Peace Prize winner *cough* in office for just under four years, George W. Bush will be blamed for going into Iraq when he should have been focused on “diplomatic” efforts with Iran (as if that would have helped).
  2. Mitt Romney is elected president and he of course supports Israel (as any sane American president would) when they strike, and the anti-war movement — so mysteriously absent over the past few years during Obama’s Terror Tuesdays — rises from the dead to accuse President Romney of being a war monger of Bushian proportions.
  3. President Obama is re-elected and Israel attacks. Despite having a Nobel Peace Prize winner *cough* starting his second term in office, George W. Bush will be blamed for going into Iraq when he should have been focused on “diplomatic” efforts with Iran (as if that would have helped).

See how that works? No matter how all of this plays out, the blame for fighting Barack Obama could not quell will fall onto someone else’s shoulders. Think of it like Obama’s defenders, who also find interesting ways to explain away his feckless YouTube diplomacy, his failures at the United Nations over Syria, and the $40 million dollar fiber optic upgrades to Guantanamo Bay.

Here is the bottom line: We are at war. President Obama won’t tell you that and Leon Panetta won’t tell you that, but the pawns have been in play for quite some time. Stuxnet was a fancy set of moves that required digital knights and bishops to enter the fray, and no one denies it. The sooner we realize what’s happening, the sooner we can figure out how to get ourselves out of this mess. If you disagree, that’s fine. I truly hope I’m wrong about the how all of this will end … but I don’t believe that will be the case. Just remember this blog post when the bombs you traditionally associate with warfare start exploding on your television screen.

Angelina Jolie calls for action in Syria, plans to blame Bush for blowback.

Angelina Jolie: Bring the troops home! Well, unless is Democrat is in office. Then there are really sad, upsetting things happening all around the world that require U.S. firepower and Hollywood stars mugging tough for the camera. Besides, we can always blame George Bush for the consequences.

Hollywood’s “United Nations High Commissioner,” Angelina Jolie, has called for intervention in Syria, which can only mean one thing: She’s found a way to blame George W. Bush for all the unintended consequences. Syria is part of the dysfunctional Middle Eastern spiderweb littered with Iranian spiders, but she doesn’t bother to think about that because a Democrat is in office. Have you ever plucked a web like it was a Spanish guitar, Ms. Jolie? The spiders come running… Military adventurism without accountability is one of the benefits bestowed upon Democrat presidents.

“I think Syria has got to a point, sadly, where certainly some form of intervention is absolutely necessary,” Jolie told Al Jazeera Balkans in an interview shown on the channel’s Internet site.

“It’s so sad, it’s so upsetting, it’s so horrible what’s happening,” Jolie said. “At this time we just must stop the civilians being slaughtered…When you see that kind of mass violence and murder on the street, you must do something,” added Jolie, who has served for years as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees…

Without naming China and Russia, she condemned “these countries that are choosing not to intervene” in Syria despite “global efforts,” (emphasis added).

What does Code Pink think about this? What does the mysteriously absent anti-war movement think about this? No one knows because they’ve been MIA since Barack Obama took office. Or perhaps they’re just confused as to what’s going on, because Hollywood’s “United Nations High Commissioners” don’t even have the courage to call out thug state actors like Russia and China.

Pay close attention to your liberal friends because they’ll often say we need to “do something.” They usually won’t give specifics. The passage of bad legislation is often better to them than no legislation because it indicates “something” is being done. Giving the people “something” indicates you care—never mind the fact that the cure is often worse than the disease.

If you want to kill a zombie, you need to chop off its head. If Angelina wanted to have a lasting impact on Syria she might want to consider an attack on Iran (especially since Leon Panetta thinks military escalation is only a matter of months away, anyway).

Question for the former Tomb Raider: If we militarily engage Syria and it spirals into a world war, will you call President Obama a warmonger, or will you wait until the next Republican is elected to conveniently call for his impeachment?

Do you know what else is “sad” and “upsetting”, Angelina? That liberals take any opportunity they can get to cut funding for the military, only to find new ways to treat them as humanitarian playthings when a Democrat is in office.

Iranian Groundhog Day: Ending Won’t Resemble Bill Murray Flick.

I’ve posted on Iran quite a few times over the past few years, usually lamenting the Christopher Nolan Momento-ish feel to the whole situation. However, I think articles like Why We’re Not Going to War with Iran, that touch on the same observation, are flawed. Sure, it’s Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day with the Iranian nuclear crisis, but even Groundhog Day comes to an end.

There was great librarian at The Library of Congress I used to see every few months, and he’d always tell the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant. One would grab its tail, one would grab its trunk, one would wrap his arms around a leg, and the last man would grab its stomach. Of course, each blind man had a completely different take on how to best describe an elephant, and they were all essentially wrong. Likewise, what’s going on in Iran is much bigger than we think. It requires commentators to step far back to have a fighting chance at predicting the end game.

Wars don’t happen over night. Liberals tried to make it sound like that’s what happened with the Iraq War, but it didn’t. The build-up lasted years, even if many of us don’t want to admit it. In the internet age, our ability to accurately read events on a lengthened timelines has atrophied. We can’t see wars forming in slow motion on the horizon and stop them, and when they do begin we expect them wrapped up like a 30 minute television show. It doesn’t work that way.

Right now Leon Panetta is on record as saying he thinks there is a “strong likelihood” Israel will strike in April, May or June. Cable news is covering the play-by-play, but what matters is the trajectory we’re on. And the trajectory clear.

Movies that star Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in place of Bill Murray don’t end well, and one of the sad footnotes to this story is that there are people who are paid a ridiculous amount of money to know that…who don’t.