What Is Hillary Clinton Really Saying?

Over the past day or so, the Trajectory of Blame for Iraq has gone like this: Hillary Clinton is blaming Barack Obama, who is blaming George W. Bush.

Here’s Hillary blaming Obama — her former boss.


Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton blamed the rise of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria on failures of US policy under President Barack Obama, in an interview published Sunday.

Clinton specifically faulted the US decision to stay on the sidelines of the insurgency against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad as opening the way for the most extreme rebel faction, the Islamic State.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad —- there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle -— the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton told the Atlantic.

Vetting the Syrians to see who was and was not a jihadist was nearly impossible at the time, and was not aided at all by the likes of Sen. John McCain, who wanted intervention and didn’t appear to care whom he might find himself working with.

For its part, the Obama administration including Hillary Clinton was awfully quick to side with the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological fountainhead of Islamic terrorism. There were concerns early on in the Syrian civil war that the United States would intervene, perhaps decisively — on the wrong side.

Not that there’s really a “right” side in that war. Assad is a brutal dictator who sides with Iran and has waged proxy wars against Israel, but the Islamists who want to oust him are even worse. The “good” Syrians are caught between two evils, both of which are more powerful than they are.


The White House has pushed back against Clinton’s comments, noting that she was fully on board with what Obama wanted and didn’t want when she was secretary of state.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg teases out an interesting, possibly revealing, passage in this back and forth.

Of course, Clinton had many kind words for the “incredibly intelligent” and “thoughtful” Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good. At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters). (emphasis added)

Did Hillary Clinton tell or even insinuate to Goldberg that Barack Obama does not believe that America is an indispensable force for good?

That would be quite a statement, coming from a fellow Democrat.


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