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Posted by on Mar 11, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, ISIS | 10 comments

Obama Discusses Clinton’s Foreign Policy Failures In Interview

Clinton Criticize Don't Do Stupid Stuff Policy

While probably inadvertent, Barack Obama has significantly undermined Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in an interview with Jeffery Goldberg being published this week in The Atlantic. Despite Goldberg’s own hawkish views, problems with Clinton’s policies can still be seen regardless of Goldberg’s spin on matters.

While Secretary of State, Clinton generally advocated a far more hawkish approach than Obama, supporting a continuation of the neoconservative policies of the Bush years. Despite the manner in which she now invokes Obama’s name in the same manner that Republicans speak of Ronald Reagan, she previously attacked Obama’s “Don’t do stupid stuff” approach to foreign policy.

Obama and Clinton had major differences of opinion over Syria, with Clinton proposing military intervention which would have probably made the situation far worse:

Hillary Clinton, when she was Obama’s secretary of state, argued for an early and assertive response to Assad’s violence. In 2014, after she left office, Clinton told me that “the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” When The Atlantic published this statement, and also published Clinton’s assessment that “great nations need organizing principles, and?‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers. The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’?” The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit. (Clinton quickly apologized to Obama for her comments, and a Clinton spokesman announced that the two would “hug it out” on Martha’s Vineyard when they crossed paths there later.)

While Clinton supported early military intervention, Obama deserves credit for stepping back from the brink of war. Clinton opposed this decision:

For some foreign-policy experts, even within his own administration, Obama’s about-face on enforcing the red line was a dispiriting moment in which he displayed irresolution and naïveté, and did lasting damage to America’s standing in the world. “Once the commander in chief draws that red line,” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and then as secretary of defense in Obama’s first term, told me recently, “then I think the credibility of the commander in chief and this nation is at stake if he doesn’t enforce it.” Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.”

This is a classic example of Clinton’s poor judgment. We should go to war only based upon security considerations, and only as a last resort when diplomacy will not work.  To make someone who thinks we had no choice in such a situation Commander In Chief is a terrifying prospect.

One of Obama’s biggest mistakes as president was to take Clinton’s advice on Libya. He admits it was a mistake:

But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”) American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.

Obama also calls Libya a “shit show” ” in part because it’s subsequently become an ISIS haven.”

While Obama admits “It didn’t work,” Clinton continues to defend the policy. She has not learned from her mistakes in Iraq or Libya. Of course the four remaining Republican candidates showed the same when they spoke of sending troops back into the region at last night’s debate.

The neoconservative policies advocated by Hillary Clinton have been a disaster. A vote for Hillary Clinton, or any of the Republican candidates, is a vote for war.

Updated from a post at Liberal Values

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  • JSpencer

    We’ll never really know will we. It’s not like things have gone so well in Syria since the “red line” statement. I think you need to find a better example, this ones a little shaky.

    • It is not shaky at all. Things would have been far worse if we had done all the things Clinton pushed for in Iraq. Plus her reason for going to war is horrifying. That it itself is enough to consider her totally unacceptable as a president.

      • JSpencer

        As you can see from my comment I wasn’t talking about “all the things”, I was talking about Syria. Fact is, I defended Obama’s “red line” decision here at TMV (not that it required any defense from me), but given all the water over the dam since then, consider it speculation (or devil’s advocacy) for the sake of discussion, after all, neither you nor anyone else will ever know if Syria (which has become a mess almost beyond description) would be better or worse had it been handled differently. Of course we can opine and argue all we like, which is SOP here.

        The Atlantic article you quote from really is a good one, and I urge any who are serious about understanding Obama’s foreign policy philosophy to take the time to read it in it’s entirety. Too bad about that pesky 22nd amendment, I’m thoroughly convinced that no matter who our next president is, he or she won’t be in anywhere near the league Obama is. That said, he’s probably looking forward to a different sort of life by now. He’s certainly earned it – and then some. Given the ongoing challenges though, I’m not looking forward to the helm being taken over by any of the current aspirants.

        • I was referring to “all the things” she advocated in Syria. While there is no way to know for certain, it was pretty clear that it was bad policy which would have made matters worse.

          Even without absolute proof of what would have happened her view on this shows that she is unfit to be president. If a diplomatic solution presents itself, it makes no sense to reject it and say we have to go to war because we once threatened it. This attitude could very well make her more dangerous than the Republicans. Trump (who opposed her policies in Syria and Libya) might make a lot of noise and threaten, but I bet that he would at least know enough to take the deal as opposed to going to war.

          The only current candidate from either party who has an acceptable view of foreign policy is Sanders.

      • JSpencer

        Btw Ron, the way you characterized the Goldberg article in your title is rather misleading. As such it could discourage some from reading what is an excellent interview describing the way Obama arrives at difficult positions on foreign policy. The bits about Clinton are a very small part of this lengthy article.

        • “Btw Ron, the way you characterized the Goldberg article in your title is rather misleading”

          No, there is absolutely nothing misleading. My post is about what Obama said about Clinton’s foreign policy. The post was not about promoting the article. If that was the topic, then I would have used a different title.

          • JSpencer

            Perhaps not… In any case, it’s worth reading in it’s own right.

          • Agree that the portions beyond what I blogged about are also worth reading. It is a rather lengthy article which touches on a wide variety of foreign policy topics.

          • JSpencer

            Thank-you for drawing my attention to it.

    • Slamfu

      Yes, but they did, with Russia’s influence, get rid of the chemical weapons no? And without firing a shot. The idea that we have to strike because we’d said so, even if it’s a bad idea, is the worst sort of playground thinking and DOES NOT apply to the use of large scale military actions. We lost face with the world? Are you effing kidding me? You think the rest of the world, because of that, forgot we have the biggest most advanced military in the world, the biggest most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, the biggest economy who’s currency is the backbone of international finance? One of the reasons you get more face than you can use is so you can lose a little bit of it here and there to make the right call. That kind of BS insecurity is not what we want in the Commander in Chief. That’s the kind of thinking that gets us into totally avoidable quagmires, gets American soldiers and countless civilians killed, and usually for no good reason.

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