WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden took a shot at former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday night for his 'inappropriate" criticisms in a new book of President Barack Obama's strategy in Syria.
During remarks at the Harvard Institute of Politics, an audience member asked Biden if he thinks the United States should have acted sooner to arm Syrian moderates to counter Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as to combat Islamic State militants. Biden said no, explaining that the United States has been engaged in a long process to identify who those moderates are.
"We Americans think, in every country in transition, there's a Thomas Jefferson hiding behind some rock or a James Madison beyond one sand dune," he said. "The fact of the matter is, the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria was, there was no moderate middle, because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers."
The vice president then took aim at Panetta, without naming him, for his harsh words on Obama's Syria strategy in his forthcoming book, Worthy Fights. In it, Panetta, who also served as CIA chief under Obama, slams the president for "hesitation and half steps" in his approach to stemming Syrian violence.
"I’m finding that former administration officials, as soon as they leave, write books, which I think is inappropriate. But any rate," Biden said, trailing off as a few in the audience laughed. "No, I’m serious. I do think it's inappropriate. At least give the guy a chance to get out of office."