On Sunday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said the United States would not reevaluate the strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), despite its recent territorial advances, and said that the Obama administration is still not considering boots on the ground.
Last week Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff for Clinton and later President Obama’s CIA director and secretary of defense, started promoting his new memoir by running a scathing excerpt in Time magazine about the current president’s Iraq policy. In the piece, Panetta blames Obama for the current problems with the Islamic State, suggesting that basically everyone except the president and his inner circle believed that something like the current collapse would happen if U.S. troops were completely withdrawn from Iraq.
This morning, Panetta’s publicity tour continues with an interview in USA Today. His opinion of Obama has not improved. The former secretary of defense expands his critique beyond the issue of residual Iraqi troop levels to making accusations of bad presidential calls on arming the rebels in Syria, on the famous Assad ‘red line’ debacle, and on allowing the sequester to occur. (There might be more—Panetta’s bill of indictment is long enough that it is possible to lose track.)
Perhaps most crushing is that Panetta more or less directly attacks Obama’s leadership abilities:
In the book’s final chapter, however, [Panetta] writes that Obama’s “most conspicuous weakness” is “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.” Too often, he “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” On occasion, he “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”