Panetta: ‘By Not Getting Involved,’ U.S. ‘Contributed’ to ISIS Chaos

Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration Leon Panetta said of the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq was a result of the United States “not getting involved sooner.”

Host Chuck Todd asked, “You know, you were not shy about criticizing the president and the strategy on Syria. I’m curious. Do you think we’d be in a different place today if you criticized there was a failure to push the Iraqi government to allow a residual force to remain in Iraq? The decision not to arm Syrian rebels in 2012 and the failure to follow through against Assad when the president said he crossed the red line. Taken together, if any one thing had changed there, would we be in a different place today, Mr. Secretary?”

Panetta said “Chuck, that’s really hard to say because of the chaos that we’re seeing in Syria. We’ve gotten a awful lot of people that bear some responsibility there, including the United States. Assad is probably the primary villain for what’s going on if Syria. Iran bears some responsibility for injecting themselves into the civil war. Hezbollah is there. We’ve got a number of opposing forces. A lot of extremists that are part of those opposing forces in Syria. The problem with Maliki who basically threw the Sunnis not only out of the government but out of the military, added fuel to the development of ISIS and I think the United States by virtue of not getting involved sooner in trying to establish some kind of moderate force there, I think all of those are factors that have contributed to the situation that we’re facing now.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN