In an interview last Sunday with The Atlantic, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greatly distanced herself from President Obama’s foreign policy views.
Discussing her opinions with Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton criticized Obama’s catch phrase for foreign policy, which is said to be, “Don’t do stupid stuff.”
According to Clinton, this is not exactly an effective approach. “Great nations need organizing principles,” Clinton told Goldberg when he mentioned Obama’s doctrine. Clinton described such organizing principles as peace, prosperity and progress.
Apart from her general philosophy on foreign policy, Clinton elaborated on specifics, insisting that the United States should have intervened early in the Syrian war in order to avoid al-Qaeda-inspired groups from seizing control of the rebel side against the Assad regime. She noted that in failing to assist in building up a credible fighting force on the rebellion’s side, a large hole was left, increasingly filled by Jihadists.
The pointed evaluation from Clinton comes at an interesting time period, as she is rumored to be a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential election.
Despite Clinton’s critique, she continued to defend Obama as far as his intentions, explaining to Goldberg that Obama was, “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy” (as far as foreign policy).
Given Obama’s second term has been dominated by foreign policy issues including the rise of ISIS in Iraq, the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the rising aggression of Russia against Ukraine, Clinton’s criticism is hard-hitting.
Although she did not outright state as much, Clinton’s interview suggests that she is worried that the United States is removing itself from the world stage as a leader in foreign policy and conflict. More than this, she subtly hints that if she were in charge in the near future, she would approach foreign policy differently.
In her recently released book “Hard Choices,” Clinton details how she and Obama disagreed on how to handle the situation in Syria, especially when it came to the question of whether or not to arm the rebel factions.
Clinton continued to qualify her comments during the interview, stating: “I’ve sat in too many rooms with the president. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited.”
In this way, Clinton has propped herself strategically in-between the President and former President George W. Bush on the scale of advocating for military intervention.
According to CNN, those close to Clinton gave the Obama administration a warning that the interview was coming. In response to the interview, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes stated that Hillary was “fully-on-board” during her time as Secretary of State with respect to the administration’s foreign policy strategy.
– Caroline Logan