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Gates, Panetta, Served During Obama's First Term
By Harold Hutchison

Two former Secretaries of Defense who served under Barack Obama have slammed his handling of the crisis in Syria. Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, who held the top civilian leadership position at the Defense Department.

“When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word,” Panetta said at a forum in Dallas, Texas. Panetta also criticized Obama’s decision to ask Congress for authorization.

Gates was also critical, saying, “I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy.” Gates also criticized the tendency for American presidents to “reach for a gun to solve an international problem.”

While Gates favored covertly arming some rebel groups, Panetta was more critical of Obama’s failure to back up his red line, saying, “Damn it, you've got to do it,” once the line was drawn.