"'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
, 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