Leon Panetta Says Embrace Long-Term War With Terrorism, Wisconsin Life: Urban Beekeepers, Wisconsin Authors: Lawrence Tabak

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Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, Leon Panetta, published his memoir one month before mid-term elections. He discusses this memoir, which is largely critical of President Barack Obama and says we should embrace the idea of a long-term war on terrorism. Then we learn about urban beekeeping in Wisconsin Life and talk to Wisconsin author Lawrence Tabak, who decided to write a novel for video game-obsessed boys when he couldn’t find any in stores.

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  • Former Defense Secretary Foresees Long-Term, Widespread War On Terror

    Thirteen years into the U.S.-led War on Terror, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he sees no end in sight.

    During a recent interview with USA Today, Panetta described the country’s current military operations as part of a long-term, geographically diverse campaign against terrorism, ranging from West Africa to the Middle East.

    “I think we are looking at kind of a 30-year war,” Panetta said.

    The former head of both the Pentagon and the CIA elaborated on his prediction in a recent interview with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time.”

    “This is going to take a long time” he said. “This country is probably going to be in a sustained war against terrorism for a number of years, so I hope the president and the Congress and the country are united behind that effort to try to protect the United States.”

    Leon Panetta served as U.S. defense secretary from 2011 to 2013 before he was succeeded by the current secretary, Chuck Hagel. Photo: Chuck Hagel (CC-BY).

    Though he was critical of President Barack Obama for not arming Syrian troops in 2012 and not responding to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013, Panetta now thinks that Obama is on the right path in launching a war against the Islamic State group,also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    However, while Obama has said that he will not put combat troops on the ground in the current offensive against the group in Iraq and Syria, Panetta was reluctant to rule out that option.

    “We have to rely on the advice of our military leaders, and the president needs to be open to listening to them, to be able to adjust our policy and our strategy when necessary in order to deal with ISIS,” he said.

    In the long-term, Panetta sees a place for U.S. counterterrorism efforts against not just the Islamic State group, but also against groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa.

    “We have developed very good counterterrorism capabilities with the ability to identity the leadership of these groups, the ability to target that leadership, the ability to go after them in an effective way,” he said. “We know how to do this, but not just against ISIS. We’re going to have to do it against these other terrorist elements that can ultimately also represent a terrorist threat to our country.”

    Panetta has defended the use of drone strikes as part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, but admitted that they do not address the broader problem of anti-Western sentiments in the region. Moreover, he acknowledged that they could actually cause blowback in the form of greater anti-Western feelings.

    “We also have to make a very important part of the strategy, how do we deal with the cultural aspects, with the religious aspects, with the economic aspects of that part of the world that drives young people to engage in jihad? That has always been a tougher task,” said Panetta.

    He pointed to two unlikely role models in this regard for U.S. counterterrorism efforts: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    “The Saudis have been working at trying to provide that kind of education system that will reach out to young people. I’ve seen it in the UAE. They too have developed that kind of aspect. We can learn from them: What are the steps necessary to try to address the very issues that inspire extremism in that part of the world? That has to be part of our strategy in confronting terrorism,” he said.

    According to Panetta, that work is the responsibility of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Much like how he sees the country’s military campaign against terrorist groups, he sees this sort of outreach as a long-term effort — one that would transform governments, economies, and education systems in North Africa and the Middle East.

    “Those are big steps and it’s going to take time,” he said. “But it has to be part of the effort if we are ever going to be able to succeed in being able to win against terrorism.”

  • Leon Panetta Says U.S. Should Embrace Long-Term War Against ISIS, Terrorism

    One month before midterm elections, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, Leon Panetta, has published a memoir that is largely critical of President Obama’s leadership style. He says the president lagged in responding to threats in Syria and should now embrace the idea of fighting a long-term war against ISIS and terrorism in the region.

  • Wisconsin Authors: In Real Life With Lawrence Tabak

    Wisconsin author, Lawrence Tabak, decided to write a novel for video game-obsessed teenage boys when he couldn’t find any on bookshelves. He shares the story of his own love of video games and the surprising journey of his main character, a teenage boy named Seth.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Leon Panetta Guest
  • Lawrence Tabak Guest

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