Bill O’Reilly pressed former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tonight on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and the world’s perception of the U.S.
Panetta, who also served as Obama's CIA director and was Bill Clinton's chief of staff, made headlines last week by criticizing in a new book Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq.
The two discussed the troop withdrawal, and Panetta told O’Reilly that there’s “no question” that failing to maintain a troop presence was a mistake.
When asked if he "pounded the table" in favor of a stay-behind force, Panetta said that he made a strong case that the U.S. needed to keep at least 10,000 troops in Iraq.
While Obama supported that, Panetta said “the real issue was how hard did he fight to make it happen.”
HIGHLIGHT: Was the Iraq Pullout a "Colossal Blunder"?
O’Reilly slammed the administration for being "caught by surprise" on everything, from the southern border to Russia's invasion of Crimea, to the rise of ISIS.
“The big picture is the Obama administration doesn’t know what the deuce is going on,” O’Reilly charged.
“I think the big picture is that this is a president who I think wants to do the right thing for the country,” Panetta responded. “The real question is whether or not he’s willing to fight to get that done.”
“So did John Tyler […] there’s a performance level, is there not?” O’Reilly fired back.
HIGHLIGHT: 'Administration Doesn't Know What the Deuce Is Going On!'
When asked whether Obama’s foreign policy has been effective, Panetta said that Obama has supported CIA and Defense Department operations, the Osama bin Laden operation, and has provided “pretty strong leadership” on the War on Terror.
However, he admitted, “I think the last two years have been a lot of mixed messages, in terms of what the United States’ role is gonna be. [...] I think he’s beginning to see that we have to take a strong stand on terrorism.”
“Beginning to? […] How many people have to die and be beheaded?” O’Reilly asked Panetta.
O’Reilly also took on the former defense secretary over the doctor who helped the U.S. find bin Laden and is now imprisoned in Pakistan.
“That doctor’s in jail – we shouldn’t be sending [Pakistan] a cent ‘til he gets out,” O’Reilly said.
HIGHLIGHT: What About the Pakistani Doctor?
The two discussed the perception of the U.S. by the rest of the world.
“Give me a straight answer: do our enemies throughout the world fear us?” O’Reilly asked.
“I think they’re getting a mixed message as to whether or not the United States will stand by its word,” Panetta told him, to which O’Reilly responded, “I’m taking that as a no.”
O’Reilly also asked whether we have been dealing with Putin from strength, and Panetta said that he would have taken a very tough position with him. He said he would have provided military aid to Ukraine, resurrected the issue on missile defense, strengthened NATO, and provided an additional energy resource to other countries so that Russia could not blackmail them.
Panetta told O’Reilly that Obama “has the guts to do the right thing” on ISIS, but the real question is whether he will make the decision to do so.
HIGHLIGHT: 'Give Me a Straight Answer, Do Our Enemies Fear Us?'
Watch Part 1 of the interview in its entirety above and two more segments: