Hillary Clinton Gives Liberals Pause By Breaking With President Obama on Foreign Policy


In her first real break with the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton criticized some of President Obama’s foreign policy and in the process gave liberals something to think about.

Transcript of Clinton’s interview with The Atlantic:

JG: Do you think we’d be where we are with ISIS right now if the U.S. had done more three years ago to build up a moderate Syrian opposition?

HRC: Well, I don’t know the answer to that. I know that 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.

They were often armed in an indiscriminate way by other forces and we had no skin in the game that really enabled us to prevent this indiscriminate arming.

JG: Is there a chance that President Obama overlearned the lessons of the previous administration? In other words, if the story of the Bush administration is one of overreach, is the story of the Obama administration one of underreach?

HRC: You know, I don’t think you can draw that conclusion. It’s a very key question. How do you calibrate, that’s the key issue. I think we have learned a lot during this period, but then how to apply it going forward will still take a lot of calibration and balancing. But you know, we helped overthrow [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi.


JG: I think that defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.

HRC: That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned. Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea—but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.

Great nations need organizing principles, and “Don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle. It may be a necessary brake on the actions you might take in order to promote a vision.

JG: So why do you think the president went out of his way to suggest recently that that this is his foreign policy in a nutshell?

HRC: I think he was trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy. I’ve sat in too many rooms with the president. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited, both the two wars and the economic front, and he has expended a lot of capital and energy trying to pull us out of the hole we’re in.

So I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview, if that makes sense to you.

Hillary Clinton wants to separate herself from President Obama to defend against the charge from Republicans that a Clinton win would be an Obama third term, but one of the things that remains popular with Democrats is the president’s cautious approach to foreign policy entanglements.

It is not surprising that Clinton would have a different view of foreign policy than the president. Whether it is fair or not, the interview may cause some on the left to remember that this is the same Hillary Clinton who for years wouldn’t completely apologize for voting for the Iraq war.

Her remarks are a reminder that Hillary Clinton is going to be a different candidate than President Obama was. Clinton and Obama agreed on 90% of the issues in 2008, but there are some differences. If she wins, Hillary Clinton’s presidency won’t be an Obama third term. In some ways, this will be a good thing.

Former Sec. Clinton’s foreign policy stance does raise questions about whether she understand the depth and degree of distaste for intervention that exists right now. Isolationist tendencies are probably at their strongest point since before World War II. I suspect that President Obama initially underestimated how scarred the American people are by the Bush years, and perhaps Clinton is doing the same.

Hillary Clinton is beginning the process of defining her 2016 candidacy, and it is clear that she intends to go in some different directions than President Obama.

57 Replies to “Hillary Clinton Gives Liberals Pause By Breaking With President Obama on Foreign Policy”

  1. I don’t know what to think of her…And I don’t completely trust her words…All politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth .especially when that have an agenda…

  2. As Obama’s SOS three years ago, didn’t she have a say in the foreign policy decisions made then? If she thinks those decisions were wrong now, she should at least own up to her part in making them, instead of blaming Obama for everything.

    Thanks, Hill, for reminding me why I didn’t vote for you in 2008 – you can’t be trusted.

  3. Hilary needs to STFU for now! She’s undercutting President Obama. She has no idea what she would do. She’s not privy to the intelligence info.

  4. I’m sure that as Secretary of State, Hillary didn’t always agree with President Obama but as his S.O.S her job was to advise the president while in the end supporting and putting forth the president’s agenda and policies.

    Do not expect Hillary Clinton to be Obama v2.0 any more than she will be Bill Clinton v2.0. She is woman with a mind of her own, a strong leader and will be a strong president when elected in 2016.

  5. I think the headline disagrees with the content. I do not see where she disagreed with Obama. Of course, she is a different person than Obama so she will have some differences but they are not shown in the article. Certainly she did not “break with Obama’s foreign policy”. This is journalistic hype.

  6. I know I may be slow but you have to click on the red Atlantic to read what she said. At least I think that’s what the red means

  7. I am puzzled because in reading this, I find no disagreement between Hillary Clinton’s stance and President Obama’s actions or stance. Your headline is more like a hoof-in-mouth line…That is the only disagreement I see!

  8. But I have this question for her and its the same one I would ask the blood gurgling chickenhawks. Given the options who were you going to arm. The free Syrian Army? Would this be the same Army who now make up some of ISIS? Methinks she is letting AIPAC and the neo-cons writing checks that come 2016 will be returned as NSF.

    Now her best answer would have been we had no good options but we did get the chemical weapons out of Syria. And as much as we would think providing arms to people that we really don’t know their true agenda would be a folly on itself. We tried that with Bin Laden and you see how that worked out.

    Now if she truly believes that we should go on a war footing then say so and the voters will judge her come 2016

  9. Are you saying that if she is the Democrat’s nominee for POTUS you will not vote, or that you will vote for some other Party? If this is the case it doesn’t sound like a lifelong Democrat to me.

  10. I cant answer for Joan but if it was me I would be looking at another candidate in the primary. This is not what Clinton needs. She don’t need another primary fight that destroyed Carter. Hillary needs to go into the general with a unified party. Not only for her but for the down ticket Dems. IT AINT ROCKET SCIENCE

  11. So does this mean you’d prefer Rand Paul in a Clinton / Paul matchup? If one is basing their decision on this single issue then Paul it seems would be their obvious choice.

    Overreactions like some of the ones in these comments are not constructive and really make no sense to me.

  12. Now you know I am very pragmatic I am just looking at the big picture. Of course come the general I will support her with as much passion as I do with Obama but a lot of people and this is the hangover from 2008 don’t. That just the facts.

    What if Hillary continues with this so called bashing of Obama. I know that’s not the case but just going through the blogs that’s the headline. Perception is reality. How much of that will turn off a lot of Obamas voters? I don’t now but I do know there are a lot of ill feelings towards the Clintons. All I am saying this is a unforced way of looking at things she don’t need.

    But hey maybe I am wrong and people don’t want a third Obama presidency which the Reich wingers will paint as doing but people are getting very angry and they don’t want business as usual

  13. See this what I am talking about. The divisions are already starting and we still have two years to go.

    Like it or not Hillary doesn’t need this bullshit and it was avoidable

  14. I think the majority of commentors only read the Headline, which is sensationalized and meant to provoke and not what is actually stated by Hillary in the interview! She only stated one differing opinion. That she saw that there were fighting forces in Syria that were not jihadists and felt they were worth backing. Others like Saudi Arabia were backing ISIS with money and arms! Good old John McCain went to the Saudi’s and urged them to do so! He never knows what’s going on! In every other way Hillary praised and backed the President. For anyone to see anything else in this is ridiculous! Politico loves to draw conclusions that don’t exist! Sick of it! The media is no longer a place to state facts, but feels the urge to state it from their slanted view point, and you people seem to eat it up. Learn to read what people actually say and not what the media wants you to think they are saying!

  15. I’m not sure I saw a big departure from the President’s foreign policy. Seems to me the article said HRC and BO viewed things the same way 90% of the time. BO’s way is largely the correct way. Any gap in dealing with the vacuum in Syria was the collective responsibility of the entire world. That can’t be laid at BO’s door step.

  16. But that headline is all over the place and is having people scratching their heads saying WTF!!
    Go to any blog and you will see what I am saying. Perception is reality

  17. Could someone please explain to me why Hllary is entitled to the presidency? Because that’s the way that everyone is acting. Like she’s somehow entitled to it!

    I’m a liberal. I’m very liberal. Hillary is NOT liberal. She never has been liberal. She is a centrist. So, I don’t understand why so many liberals are supporting her.

  18. One reason I believe is we are looking at the down ballot Dems that will be running. The thinking is if she can hold on to Obamas base with the white working class that wouldn’t vote for Obama, the reasons I wont get into, 2016 would be a total wipeout of the baggers. That’s the plan.

    What Clinton or her advisors don’t take into account is fighting Joe Biden. If the Vice President if he runs throw his support behind Obamas agenda and Hillary is doing some third way shit, where do they think Obamas base will go? I am not saying he would win but a long drag out fight would do harm to democrats everywhere. Don’t believe the pundits when they say a long fight is good for the party. The only thing that would be good for them is their bank accounts.

    She just didn’t need to go there with what she would have done in Syria because it just reinforces the perception she is nothing more than bush in a dress or in her case a pantsuit

  19. Another reason this headline and reviewer’s perspective on Hillary’s difference from Obama is to provoke is that we have been giving Military aid to fighting forces against Assad for months. She just advocated it sooner!

  20. Probably because they don’t want to vote Republican or third party/independent, Kimberly. It’s a valid approach.

  21. The game. Always the game. Yes we have been giving small arms to some rebels but have anyone stopped to ask are ISIS using those weapons? One of the main reasons aid was given was to counter Hezbollah and Iran aid to Assad. Now Iran are our defacto allies fighting ISIS in Iraq. The game. The grand game.

    So far no one including Hillary has answered the most important question. What happens if Assad falls? Do people really think there would be a continental congress to write a constitution?

    “How dreadful…to be caught up in a game and have no idea of the rules.”
    ― Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

  22. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee I will vote for her over a Republican. But I don’t think it will help her by dissing the president and sounding like John McCain. She ran an inferior campaign against President Obama in 2008 and she lost. She seems to be going down the same road again.

  23. @freckle how is Hillary sounding like John McCain! I just don’t get what you are reading into this! I also don’t understand Politico’s Headline or how they are defining what Hillary said during the interview other then they have an agenda! Every word Hillary stated was bolstering Obama’s position and
    @djchefron the world stage is like a chess board! It used to be Democracy vs. Communism, now it has so many players! It is a game now to keep the forces wanting destruction at bay and when possible to accept differences and live in peace! The challenge for America is to know who the enemy is like in Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc. and not rush to judgement and action like John McCain wants America to do!

  24. How is Iran an enemy? For that matter how is Syria an enemy of America? And I would think after 4000 dead and trillions of dollars are you now saying is Iraq are enemy now? Wow I have heard it all

  25. I’d vote for her if I had to. That doesn’t mean I’d want to. I have always been unsure of whether my distaste for her is personal, or just an aura of the hometown where we both went to elementary school (she went to Eugene Field; I, to Theodore Roosevelt) , but when I think about it, those are pretty inseparable. Any Democrat who is not a raving Dixiecrat must be voted for. All the same, if she is the candidate, I hope she finds a higher self than she has evinced so far.

  26. Candidate Obama resurrected the Democratic Party when it was Dead On Arrival. When he was elected, we knew the right-wing would show its ugly head. Progressives were right on cue as they began to complain, before he was inaugurated. But the group that I thought would cause the most problems would be the Clinton Democrats. These are the same people that sat idly by and let George W. Bush and the Republicans render them persona non grata, while they destroyed the economy, and started illegal wars. When it was time to hold George W. Bush accountable, they refused to do it. It is contemptible that they remain silent while the President of the United States is attacked in such a vulgar manner. African Americans are the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters yet they have said nothing about the Republicans engaging in blatant racist politics. But I gather one should not be surprised, Bill Clinton also threw down the race tropes of welfare and crime. No more Clinton’s for me

  27. Like Obama is not opposed to fascism. Speaking of, “stabbed in the back”, has the gassing of Syrian villages not made an impression on her?

  28. But, she didn’t say that, did she. She was clearly and openly competing with Obama. Great move (NOT) coming into these horrifically important midterms. The lack of circumspection in her speech makes me wonder about her abilities to handle foreign policy and world leaders with the thoughtfulness that would be required to keep moving away from the WOT and toward better diplomacy and cooperation.

  29. The fact that she did not praise Obama and express some gratitude for his ways, instead of just focusing on herself, is not cool.

  30. Hi Pat, I understand definitely not wanting one of those guys but I have to tell you – I’m tired of these Democrats trying to be Republican lite. I for one don’t want a Republican lite Democrat give me a real progressive or honestly we should vote for the republican candidate and I say that with disgust because progressive need to be represented and not only that – how in the hell are you just going to be a turncoat against the President after all the nonsense that these Republican have put him through.

    That’s my 2 cents

  31. Hillary voted for the Iraq War. But now, she criticizes Obama for not wanting to do stupid shit. I’m Hillary fatigued. Why is it assumed that she is the crowned candidate before there is even a primary? If she is the only choice the Dems have, I think we are in trouble.

  32. Hillary Clinton has not declared, either. It’s too soon to know, really, if Warren will be convinced to run by Clinton’s weaknesses. I must say I believe Warren to be a better Democratic package than Clinton. Warren has a place in many a Republican heart. She could turn red states blue in ways Clinton will not. And Warren will not face a suspect history as Clinton will in a campaign. Clinton is undeniably a neocon. There are a lot of negatives assignable to Clinton and as pragmatic Democrats we have to look at all issues, liabilities and positives in candidates. Perhaps Warren will run …

  33. Even before HRC said this ‘stuff’ I’d noticed she was saying other things I disagreed with but after this I realize I cannot support someone like her. I did not vote for her before and I will not vote for her in the future. She’s saying just what Republicans want to hear not what Liberals represent themselves as.

    Warren 2016!!!!

  34. I simply could never vote for a repugplican no matter what, not in good conscience. I’ve never trusted Clinton, either one, personally, but I’m afraid a third candidate will split the vote.

  35. All I know, is the world we live in today…and if Mrs. Clinton wants to be the next president of the United States(or what’s left of them), she has my vote.

    Say what you want about her, but she is tough, smart and doesn’t seem to care about republicans or what they think.

    Her dealings with those figure heads in the middle east, put her at a pretty good advantage, of what is going on today.

    So…you Go Hillary!!!!!! The country needs you, if it is ever going to get out of the hole, gw bush and his crime family dug for us.

  36. Hilary definitely gave me pause with this interview…and I’m heartened to see I wasn’t alone. With this hawkish policy, she is running the risk of a lot of dems staying home, with the enthusiam factor lacking. Aligning herself with the Sunday chicken hawk pundits, McClown excluded, Hilary doesn’t do herself favors. On another note, it’s unseemly to criticize the president when we are involved in the foreign affairs arena, republicans are no longer honoring it, but I expect Mrs. Clinton to adhere to it for the President she served under, and btw, helped to resurrect her career.

  37. You can say that and for the life of me I don’t understand it. If she loses Obamas base the Democrats will lose all the way around

  38. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Kimberly. I did not vote for Clinton in 2008 because she is a centrist, and I don’t see that changing. While I consider her better than a Republican, I do not feel that she represents me well as either a Democrat or as a woman. Sure, I’ll vote for her if she wins the primary because she’s still less crazy, creepy, offensive, or dangerous than the Republicans.

    Barring a surprise run for office by Elizabeth Warren, I’ll probably vote for Joe Biden in the priumary.

  39. Tommy, Rest assured, as for me, too, a life long Democrat, there would be other candidates to choose from. I have always loved Joe Biden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.