In a new Atlantic interview, Hillary Clinton has underlined her differences with President Obama on foreign policy—particularly when it comes to Syria. Clinton pointed to the administration's limited involvement in Syria as a major factor in the Islamic State's surge to power in Iraq, Politico notes. "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," she told Jeffrey Goldberg.
Clinton did, however, note that she "can totally understand the cautions that we had to contend with," but we can't "claim to know" how things could have gone had we opted to "carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army," Politico reports. Among other highlights from the interview:
- Clinton made what Goldberg calls a "vociferous defense of Israel" in the recent Gaza crisis. "Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets," she said. "There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made."
- She also criticized Obama's broader foreign-policy stance, which he has characterized as "Don't do stupid stuff." "Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle," Clinton said. She noted that "when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward."
- Goldberg feels Clinton made her intentions for 2016 fairly clear: She suggested that while some of her positions might seem "old fashioned," she was "about to find out, in more ways than one."