Hillary Clinton has a problem. How does she escape blame for the tragedies that are now engulfing the Mideast when, as Secretary of State for four years, she was responsible for many of the policies that have produced this mess?
In a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, we got the answer: Clinton said that a lot of it happened because Barack Obama, her former boss, just wasn’t aggressive enough.
Before getting into that argument, however, Clinton took a shot at a phrase that Obama has used privately, and apparently proudly, to describe his vision of what U.S. foreign policy should be: “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” (In the actual quote, the president allegedly used a barnyard vulgarism instead of the word “stuff.”)
Not the most eloquent and inspiring exhortation you’ve ever heard, is it? Sounding a bit like a schoolyard scold, Clinton told Goldberg, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
I wonder how many of Obama’s top aides are now saying privately that picking Clinton as his secretary of state, and thus the top administrator of his foreign policy, would make a list of “stupid stuff” that happened in his administration?
Goldberg introduced the core of the controversy his article would create by writing:
President Obama has long ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups — like the ones rampaging across Syria and Iraq today — from seizing control of the rebellion.
He’s delighted to report that Clinton doesn’t agree:
Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the “failure” that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.
Goldberg then includes a direct quote from Hillary, in which she doesn’t hesitate to put the “failure” tag squarely on her former boss:
“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 said.
Got that? According to Clinton, if the U.S. had simply been more willing to support the forces battling Syria’s dictator, things would be a lot different in the Mideast today. As a result of these failures, she says, the world now faces much more serious threats from Muslim extremists.
“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. …”
Thanks for the grade-school lesson, Hillary. It isn’t like we didn’t already know that.
In an effort to keep this contrived controversy for getting hotter, Clinton called her former boss two days ago to say that nothing in the Atlantic article was meant as an attack on him or his leadership. Sure thing, Hillary.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said both Clinton and Obama planned to be at a party on Martha’s Vineyard this week, and that “she looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other.”
Isn’t that sweet? In the meantime, the murder and mayhem continue as the barbaric forces of the ISIS march across Iraq.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.