Obama Defense Chief Says: ‘We’ll Have To Go Back To Afghanistan’ To Get ISIS & Al-Qaeda

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Leon Panetta former defense chief

Leon Panetta, who has been objecting to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, says that Joe Biden will have to “go back infollowing the Kabul bombings

He is just one among many within the US national security establishment who has been against the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Panetta, who headed the CIA between 2009 and 2011 before moving to replace Robert Gates as Pentagon chief, told CNN to expect a forever war on terrorism in America’s forseeable future, including one 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 said.

RT reports: 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.

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.

Niamh Harris
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