Former President Jimmy Carter believes the Obama administration “waited too long” to act on ISIS, allowing the group to shore up the funding and resources for its success in taking over parts of Iraq.
“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,” Carter said in an October 7 interview with the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, “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.”
Carter said ground troops could enable the mission to succeed, but that troops would only help Iraq, not Syria, where ISIS originated.
Carter’s comments come as ISIS forces advance further into Kobani, a Kurdish town in Syria bordering on Turkey. Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on October 7he is “fearful” a full ISIS takeover of Kobani could be imminent.
Carter's dissatisfaction with Obama's ISIS strategy may be indicative of his feelings toward the president's Middle East policy as whole, which he implied lacked focus.
“It changes from time to time,” Carter told the Star Telegram. “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 also criticized the president’s counter-terrorism drone policy. In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congress informing them that four Americans had been killed in drone strikes targeting terrorists in the Middle East. Carter told the Star-Telegram that the deaths of these Americans "violate our Constitution and human rights."
“I really object to the killing of people, particularly Americans overseas who haven’t been brought to justice and put on trial,” he explained.
Although as Democrats they share the same party affiliation and have held the same title, this is not the first time Carter has criticized Obama. In an interview with Parade Magazine last October he characterized the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as “questionable at best,” although he cited the legislation as one of Obama's main accomplishments.
Carter, who is 90, served one term as president, from 1977 until 1981. According to the Star-Telegram, he was in Fort Worth participating in a Habitat for Humanity Project.