In a wide-ranging townhall-style interview, former President Bill Clinton told CNN that he doesn’t think racism has gotten worse in the country and that President Obama’s Syria strategy has a “chance” of being successful.
Clinton said the ISIS threat is “quite significant and it certainly threatens to change the whole landscape in the Middle East, redrawn national boundaries, crash national governments and we know they’re killing a lot of innocent people who don’t agree with them.”
“They ran the Christians out of Iraq who’ve been there since the dawn of Christendom and they butchered those Syrian soldiers and, you know, we don’t agree with the Syrian government but their soldiers, their uniformed personnel and thought with rules of war, and of course they like to decapitate people on the Internet,” he said. “So I think that strategy that the president has adopted has a chance of succeeding. I support him on what they’re doing.”
Clinton added that arming rebels in Syria is “worth the gamble.” His wife advocated this to President Obama three years ago but was overruled.
“One thing we know will happen, if we don’t help people who are trying to create an open inclusive secular society, they will lose. If we do help them and they lose anyway, somebody will get their weapons but I don’t think that will massively change the balance of power. Anytime you do anything, it might not work. We don’t have 100 percent in control,” he said. “You just make a judgment over whether it’s more likely than not to work.”
On the recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Clinton said he doesn’t think there’s been a rush to judgment in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.
“What do we know? We know that the young man was unarmed. We know there was some kind of altercation with the police officer. We know when he was trying to get away he was shot. We know he had two bullets in the head. We know somebody made some sort of mistake. We don’t know what that was,” he said.
“…The most interesting thing to me about Ferguson was when the governor put the African-American state trooper who was from that area in charge of overseeing the situation and communicating with the folks in the community, things got better.”
Racism hasn’t gotten worse in the country, Clinton said, “but I think that we’re playing with it, with its darker possibilities with things like the stand your ground laws.”
“I actually think we are less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than we used to be. I think our big problem today is we don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us,” he added. “And I think that in some ways, it can be the worst silo of all, be holed up in.”
Clinton said he’s a “huge” football fan and hopes the NFL is “trying to get it right now” with the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal.
“I grew up at home with domestic violence. And — God, I hope that it works out all right for — I hope he really is OK and he never does it again. Sometimes, people don’t, but it’s rare. And I think what bothers everybody is that that, that seems that the NFL diminished the importance of it early on,” he said.
“I think that people who are rich and popular because of athletics, or entertainment, or any other thing like that, they shouldn’t be held for an impossible standard, they shouldn’t be exempted from the general rule that we can’t get away with abusing people because of our position.”