HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Speaking in in West Michigan on Tuesday, a retired four-star U.S. Army general and former CIA director called the Friday terror attacks in Paris a “game changer” in the war against the Islamic State militant group.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus was in Hudsonville to give the keynote speech at a Dutch-American Heritage Day event. He also talked to members of the media about the Paris attacks that left 129 dead, which he called “barbaric.” Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for those attacks.
“I don’t know that you can say it is or is not bigger than 9/11,” Petraeus said. “It certainly is in the minds of many Frenchmen, I’m sure, and perhaps many Europeans.”
He went on to call the Islamic State a “geopolitical Chernobyl” that is spewing violence and extremism not only in Middle East, but also now in Europe.
“It is obvious — given the attack in Paris, given the attacks in Lebanon, given the Sinai aircraft bombing and a host of other attacks, not to mention those in Iraq and Syria — we are not where we should be in the fight against the Islamic State,” Petraeus said.
How the U.S. should respond to the attacks has been the center of debate, with some critics, calling on the U.S. to change or expand its military campaign against ISIS or suggesting a large number of American troops on the ground in the Middle East. President Barack Obama dismissed those calls at the G20 Summit on Monday, saying that would be a mistake.
Tuesday, Petraeus seemed to agree.
“We do not have to be the ground force and should not be because we would not be sustainable, most likely,” Petraeus said.
Still, the general said the U.S. needs to assess its current military mission and ask a number of questions about its resources and our capabilities.
“Is the mission we have assigned to the military and to other elements of this campaign, is this sufficiently brought, is this appropriate? Do we have the right campaign to achieve that mission? Do we have the right organizational architecture — I’m talking about headquarters and forces and various capabilities — have we resourced it all adequately?” Petraeus questioned. “I think as we examine this, in many cases we’re going to conclude that the answer to some of these questions is either no or at least in part no.”
However, he also said the U.S. is making progress in Iraq and against ISIS and that he is confident in how the president and his national security team will react to what happened in Paris. He said the full impact of the attacks has yet to be seen.
“When coupled with the refugee crisis … you can see that there are very significant implications here that I think are still being assessed; ramifications of which are still to be determined,” Petraeus said.
Beyond that, Petraeus did not specifically comment on the controversy surrounding whether states should close their borders to Syrian refugees following the attacks.
Petraeus was also asked how should people filter all of the information on the attacks they are taking in through the newspapers, TV news and social media. He said it’s important to understand the perspective of each particular agency and said the mainstream tries very hard to “get it right” when reporting on what’s happened.