Leon Panetta, one in a host of voices of the US national security establishment objecting to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, says Joe Biden will have to “go back in” to deliver on a pledge to avenge the deaths of troops in Kabul.
Panetta, who headed the CIA between 2009 and 2011 before moving to replace Robert Gates at the helm of the Pentagon, went on CNN to predict a forever war on terrorism in America’s forceable future, including in Afghanistan.
“I understand that we’re trying to get our troops out of there. But the bottom line is we can leave a battlefield, but we can’t leave the war on terrorrism, which still is a threat to our security,” he told the OutFront program.
"There's no question that it's probably Joe Biden's worst nightmare to lose 13 Marines as a result of what's happened here," says former CIA director Leon Panetta of the deadly attacks in Afghanistan."This has to be the worst day in his administration." pic.twitter.com/ykI8bt53De— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) August 26, 2021
The Obama-era official was commenting on President Joe Biden’s promise to go after the Afghan branch of terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), which claimed credit for the Thursday bomb attacks in Kabul. The bombings claimed dozens of lives, including 13 US soldiers. Panetta said Biden was right to promise to retaliate against the people who orchestrated the bombings, and that pledge may require him to act against his withdrawal plan.
We’re gonna have to go back in to get ISIS. We’ll probably have to go back in, when Al-Qaeda resurrects itself – as they will with this Taliban [government].
The Taliban has been promising to deny access to Afghanistan territory under its control to international terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda, as the Islamist militant movement seeks international recognition of its power in the country. Taliban fighters, who were guarding the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, were among the victims of the Thursday attack.
Panetta’s mistrust of the militants’ intentions is not surprising. He made his negative opinion about Biden’s decision to honor a Trump-era agreement with the Taliban to pull out NATO troops from Afghanistan quite clear. Last week, he compared the fall of the US-backed government in Kabul with the failed invasion of post-revolution Cuba under John Kennedy and called on Biden to take responsibility for his ‘Bay of Pigs’ in Kabul.
2withdrawal from France in WWII.Fmr. Obama Defense Sec. and CIA Director Leon Panetta added the collapse of the Afghan government and military, was a major blow to the US’ credibility as an ally on the world stage."I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs," he told CNN. pic.twitter.com/mAVwro7HOs— Angelus iustitiae (@AIustitiae) August 18, 2021
The sentiment is shared by a long list of former US national security officials, who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The criticisms of Biden’s Afghan policy became overwhelming in the US media after the unexpectedly swift takeover of Kabul by the Taliban fighters.
Panetta and other anti-withdrawal pundits happen to share not only that same attitude but also another trait – involvement with the private sector servicing the US military-industrial complex.
In 2014, the former security official joined the defense consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies. The next year he joined the board of software giant Oracle, whose ties with the Pentagon were highlighted recently by the company’s legal fight for a $10bn contract that the DoD gave to competitor Microsoft.
As he predicted that the US would have to “go back in” to Afghanistan, Panetta remained vague about what exactly he envisioned. The Taliban showed no intention to tolerate Western soldiers on Afghan soil after the August 31 evacuation deadline, which the Biden administration wants to keep.
It’s safe to assume that Panetta’s preferred approach would be timid compared to what another media personality suggested in response to the attack in Kabul. The reaction of conservative show host Todd Starnes was arguably an advocacy of war crimes, as he proposed that “a city in Afghanistan should be wiped off the face of the Earth” for every American killed.
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