Another big-name Democrat piles on Obama’s Mideast strategy

Will the last Democrat to bail on President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East please turn out the lights? From an interview with Jimmy Carter published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“Carter said it was hard to figure out exactly what President Obama’s policy is in the Middle East.

“‘It changes from time to time,’ Carter said. ‘I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.’ …

“Carter acknowledged that the ISIS situation is complicated and he thinks the U.S. waited too long to respond.

“‘First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria,’ he said. ‘Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.'”

One of those former defense secretaries, Leon Panetta, has a new book in which he specifies the time for action in Syria was in the fall of 2012, a year before Obama proposed and then decided against intervening in Syria or arming the rebels. Carter also suggested the U.S. will have to deploy ground troops in Iraq, and he criticized Obama’s drone policy.

What’s interesting about this development is what it signals about the speed with which Obama’s support from his own party is eroding. The other defense secretary to whom Carter alluded, Robert Gates, could at least be written off as a Republican appointee of George W. Bush who stayed on after Obama took over. Carter and Panetta are as solidly Democratic as it gets, and as Time’s Sam Frizell reminds us, Hillary Clinton has already jumped off the Obama foreign-policy bandwagon. Panetta and Clinton’s criticism could be chalked up to the latter’s need to keep Obama’s mistakes from hurting her own presidential ambitions. But what, then, to make of Carter’s words, given that he was more in the Obama camp than the Clinton camp back in 2008?

There are implications for the rest of Obama’s presidency: Imagine if he has to rely chiefly on GOP support for his efforts in Iraq and Syria, especially if Republicans take control of the Senate. And there are of course implications for the race to succeed him, most of all on the Democratic side, where loyalty to Obama could be set against loyalty to Clinton as other Democrats enter the fray. Foreign policy will be one of the main ways for other Democrats to distinguish themselves vs. Clinton.

Locally, Senate candidate Michelle Nunn attacked her GOP opponent, David Perdue, during last night’s debate in Perry for not supporting air strikes against Syria a year ago rather than focusing on the president’s backtracking on the issue. Perdue faulted Obama for not leaving a residual force behind in Iraq and because the president “had no plan (a year ago) and he has no plan now.”

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79 comments
RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Well, Jason Carter has been urging black Georgians to register, now he is running around begging them to get out the vote, yet his grandpa is out there calling Obama a failure, which surely is going to work against him by decreasing enthusiasm in his hoped for supporters.  


Jimmy, a President with a failed foreign policy, just can't help himself, from trying to slide Obama underneath him on the list of failed Presidents.  Wonder if he gave any consideration to how his spouting off was going to impact Jason's chances.   Jimmy Carter is like the energizer bunny, he just keeps on giving Republicans a leg up. 

DirtyBird-Rise-up
DirtyBird-Rise-up

So Panetta is pushing a book and we should take his word because.......When are we going to stop the madness. Why does it seem like we are the only world power who want to put Capitolism in every country because this has nothing to do with Democracy. Age old regimes who suppress the poor and women get funds from the US and now we want to change their culture. Their people have to rise up! 

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well it sounds like American's want to continue to waste more Money being the Global Police yet once again. Please how do we balance the budget, or make strides to reduce it, and go to War again ?


As far as Perdue goes, the realization is that he has a Plan........ OUTSOURCE US JOBS...... But wait NOT if he is elected, he will do an about face........ as Romney tried to tell us.

DirtyBird-Rise-up
DirtyBird-Rise-up

Its amazing how people who cannot fight, advocate that we fight folks who the Republican Senator John McClain begs the White House to arm without knowing which group was in charge trying to bring down Syria.

Men and women we are lucky to have a president who has wise counsel at his disposal. The alternative would be American boots on the ground and that would include more fatalities and injuries which adds to an already burgeoning debt.

Why are we fighting and not getting much in return. Strectching our forces thin, if Russia invades another country who is going to step up?

straker
straker

Headley


The idea is to whip the gullible Republican base into an anti-Obama frenzy which will translate to more votes in the upcoming election.


Accountability, like ethics, is something many Republican politicians care nothing about.

Tony_King
Tony_King

Kyle-

I have asked you about this before.  Please be honest about Obama's backtrack on Syria. The President had a press conference and said he was prepared to strike Syria and he asked congress for a vote.  They refused to vote.  That is the truth.  There is plenty of video. So stop being dishonest about this point.  Critique if you will but please be truthful. Secondly, who were we going to arm in Syria? Who was the groups leader?  What were their intentions?  You don't know and neither do all of these armchair QB's. Pannetta's book indicates that he was bad at making a persuasive arguement and now he wants to second guess for some type of gain.  Lastly, your party has spent over 30 years mocking and tearing down President Carter's credibility and now you value his opinion.  Again, have an opinion be a partisan but try and have some degree of credibility. We deserve that.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Tony_King Not quite, Obama put the red line in place without consulting Congress.  He claimed he had the authority to act without Congress.  He planned to act without Congress, then one weekend some Dems changed his mind on his acting without approval.


THEN, he pivoted to Congress, where he knew they would not approve action.  His red line and his refusal to act, destroyed our credibility according to Leon Panetta.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Personally, I liked anyone of Patton's strategies, we win, they lose.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Did we wait too late to fight the Viet Cong ?  Have they not learned ?

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

Now Fox News has experts on saying that the border has already been infiltrated by ISIS and they have found prayer rugs


When will this madness end ?...Is there no accountability over at Fox News ?

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

@HeadleyLamar


Is there no accountability over at Fox News ?


So which government department would you like them to answer,.................get their news from?

straker
straker

Its hard to see exactly what interests we have left in Iraq and Syria that would justify still more sacrifices of our blood and treasure.


But then, I'm not on The-Military-Industrial-Complex payroll.

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

@Kyle_Wingfield @FIGMO2 Kyle - please be so kind as to remind FIGMO2 that name calling is not allowed.  I don't make names up for her (or anyone else) and I would appreciate it if she could extend the same courtesy. Thank you.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Tiberius-Constitutionus I thought you liked to make things interesting with your constant name changes. Am I to assume you no longer want to be interesting?

Alrighty din!

Deleted in 3-2-1

schnirt

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

The Middle East is a no win situation for Obama, and likely the next several POTUS whoever they may be. It's not like anyone knew who to arm then or now . . . but, hey, that kind of knowledge is irrelevant when the constant cry is do something, anything. 


We've armed the Middle East quite well over the past 50 years. Time for them to use some of it for themselves. I mean parades are nice, but the stuff was made to explode.


According to the article, Carter's also against Obama's drone policy. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Carter's opinion means nothing to me.    

The opinions of Panetta and Gates, on the other hand, hold great value.

Obama can be compared to a plague everyone wants to avoid.

A pitiful president in every sense of the word. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@FIGMO2  Any  Republican FIGMO2 supports is pitiful in every sense of the word.


See how easy it is to make a statement like that?

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

@FIGMO2 Do they hold greater value before or after their respective book releases?  And as for "pitiful" president, Mr. Obama's 8 years in office will have been some of the most consequential in our nation's recent history.  Sucks to be on the losing side, don't it?

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Tiberius-Constitutionus Before. I've always respected both men.

I said long ago that the tell-all books following Obama's presidency would provide excellent reading.

You have to face facts...Obama operates within a small circle of close friends. He's done nothing to endear himself to anyone outside that circle.

Just rewards, I'd say. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

It is almost amusing when conservatives use the opinion of a Democrat as scorned by the Republicans as Jimmy Carter to attack President Obama. Many of them would be the first to attack the President once the American casualties in Iraq and Syria started climbing.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV Kinda reminds me of the proggies and how they jumped up and applauded every 

Republican that said something negative about Bush. 


I'm with Figmo, Carter is a universal joke, but Panetta and Gates are true patriots, that have  long and distinguished careers, putting America first, over party.

Likewise
Likewise

So now you consider Carter a credible source?  Mission Accomplished means just that.  Republicans have no credibility on this issue (or many others for that matter).

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Likewise "So now you consider Carter a credible source?"

About mainstream Democratic thinking? I don't think I've ever thought otherwise.

Likewise
Likewise

@Kyle_Wingfield @Likewise  "...mainstream Democratic thinking?"


No, it is the view of an ex-president.  I think the mainstream thinking of most Americans, regardless of political party, is that the Middle East needs to start fixing itself.  These are not military solutions, but geo-political.  It dates back to the end of WWI and the creation of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.  It's up to the people of the region to solve their problems.  Using 9/11 as an excuse to go intervene will just cost us more money and blood. 

332-206
332-206

Carter has mainstream Democratic thinking? Really? 

Like on Israel-Palestine?


Post Presidency, Jimmy Carter has seemed to be the loose canon in the Democratic Party.

But maybe that's just me...

Likewise
Likewise

@332-206  That is just you.  As an ex-politician, you can speak the unpopular truth.  However, I don't know how anyone can provide an intelligent US Middle East strategy.  What we are seeing today is the result of decades of the West manipulating that region.  Our policies favor Israel and oil.  Caliphates?  The royal families that occupy that region today were the caliphates that helped the Allies defeat Turkey and Germany in WWI.  The West never felt that region could govern themselves.  Read some history about the region from WWI and you will better understand what is happening today. 

332-206
332-206

@Likewise " As an ex-politician, you can speak the unpopular truth."



Which pretty much takes President Carter out of the political mainstream...

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

So the middle east laughs at al qaeda and Turkey could wipe them from the face of the earth. But if the United States were to put some troops on the ground, we'd get slaughtered. This is what passes for logic?

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@Captain-Obvious Yes


Its in place...Provide air support and logistical support.


Get the ME countries to do the ground fighting.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

Mr. Wingfield:


Regarding the Assad regime and the quagmire that is now Syria and parts of Iraq:


"Similarly, the only way intervention will bring "accountability" to those responsible is if it results in their capture or death, and in the prevention of further such atrocities by the Assad regime. That would take a whole lot more than lobbing a few cruise missiles at Damascus. Does anyone believe the American people, after more than a decade of war on that side of the world, are prepared to support the kind of thorough, bloody, expensive action that could bring "accountability"? I don't."


"The Assad regime is no friend, but neither are his opponents, who have become infiltrated by al-Qaida and other jihadis who would be only too glad to turn on us once they're through with Assad."


http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/kyle-wingfield/2013/aug/27/obamas-loose-words-dont-justify-war-syria/


I concur with your first analysis of the situation. Have you changed your mind?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HarryCrews Funny, you left out this point: "There might have been a point, early in the civil war, when we could have intervened to support the Syrian rebels before their ranks were filled with terrorists, but that moment has long since passed. "

Again, Panetta writes that the time for action was in the fall of 2012 -- a year before I wrote that. Given all we have learned, I'd say Panetta's judgment about the timing was probably right.

You also left out the context of what I wrote, which was disputing the idea that Assad's use of chemical weapons on its own justified the use of force. One of my points was that, in a war in which some 100,000 civilians had been killed, the mere manner in which some of them were killed was not a justification if the tens of thousands of other deaths were not.

What's more, you could have also linked to this piece in which I argued that acting as late as Obama proposed would have only empowered ISIS (yes, that specific name is referenced in the post): http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/kyle-wingfield/2013/sep/05/syrians-our-intervention-would-empower-it-or-not/

As I argued then, taking on these elements required a lot more than Obama said he was willing to do. See this additional post about Obama's lack of resolve and weak motivation/commitment for acting as he proposed at the time: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/kyle-wingfield/2013/aug/29/our-apparent-syria-policy-just-muscular-enough-not/

Nothing in the interim has made me change my mind about that. It remains clear that Obama in 2013 was proposing too little, too late -- and that such a proposal wasn't worth our support.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@Kyle_Wingfield @HarryCrews


Mr. Wingfield:


Please, spare me the sanctimony. Yes. I left out enormous parts of your columns. I'm glad you printed them. This was no attack. I'm in agreement with you regarding many statements from these past columns. Especially:

"Does anyone believe the American people, after more than a decade of war on that side of the world, are prepared to support the kind of thorough, bloody, expensive action that could bring "accountability"? I don't."

This is not about you (or I) for that matter, being right but what is the right course of events. Would you have supported a full-scale invasion or bomb lobbing into Syria in 2012? Remember hindsight is 20/20 vision. You said just last year you did not.

I respect Leon Panetta. I applauded his nomination as C.I.A. chief and Defense Secretary because of his lack of close times to the Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Community. I believe you supported his nomination as well.

At some point, "our allies" in the region have to step up and protect their own best interests. ISIL and Al Qaeida love the motherland but are no friends of the Royal Family. Turkey screams to high heaven about protecting the Kurds but stand by and watch as a Kurdish city on their border is about to be overrun by extremists

While taking in account the U.S. history of selective intervention regarding genocidal activity and abhorrent atrocities in other parts of the world. I ask you now:

What is your proposal or solution to this crisis?

Honestly, I find no humor in the situation.

Trefusis
Trefusis

@HarryCrews  Evidently you and I are wolves of the same pack.  Why do we go to war so impulsively?  I want us to war determinedly, and to kill our enemies outright and catch them sleeping.  Honestly it's not complicated, you just need to have the most sophisticated military the World's ever seen.  Oh.  And a child become a man.