Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Blog

By Jad Ireifej
Summer Intern, 2014

In a recent interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg, Hillary Clinton made it clear that if she was president, American foreign policy would look different.

Though she complimented President Obama on his intellect and abilities to follow complex and multifaceted situations, the former Secretary of State felt that the policy mantra of “don’t do stupid stuff” weakened America’s global position and has contributed to the continued violence we have seen across the Middle East this summer.

Clinton made it clear that she and the president did not see eye to eye on the current handling of the summer’s crises, particularly with the hands off policy in Syria and the handling of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Clinton felt that rise of the Islamic State through Syria and Iraq was an effect of a vacuum left open by the lack of US intervention early on in the Syrian conflict. When she was Secretary of State, Clinton made it clear that she was advocating for arming the moderate Syrian resistance and establishing a force that could oppose Bashar Al Assad. The administration took a different approach, and Clinton was pretty clear that she saw this as a failure. The void was filled by extremist and their influence spilt over into the instability of Iraq.

On Israel, though she was tough on Netanyahu when she was Secretary of State, she made it clear in the interview that that was an administration decision, not a personal sentiment. In fact, she felt that much of the criticism against Israel across the globe, in reaction to the Gaza conflict, was fuelled largely by anti-Semitic undertones. She, further, felt that Israel was justified in its argument for self-defense and that Hamas is to blame for the current violence. Though she did find the civilian causalities regrettable, she had faith that Israel did take all possible precautions.

Clinton also discussed how she had differing opinions on Iran. While the president made clear in a recent New York Times interview that he was encouraged by the prospects for reaching an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran, Clinton felt that Iran has no right to any nuclear capabilities and that even the modest parameters for an energy enrichment deal may be going too far.  Overall, she felt that the Obama administration lacked the “defining principles” that are characteristic of the United States and its importance abroad.

Many political observers saw this interview as preparation for Clinton’s highly anticipated presidential run in 2016. This interview was an easy way to create separation from an increasingly unpopular president, who has been involved, however unfairly, in a foreign policy crisis for the vast majority of his tenure. Clinton has always had a more aggressive approach when it came to foreign policy and by highlighting this difference between her and the president,  experts believe she can ensure that votes for her are not votes for a third Obama term of these foreign policy “failures”, though some critics believe it may be a vote for a third Bush.

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