Top Stories


    Aug 12, 2014

    Hillary faults Obama's Syria policy


    HILLARY Clinton is taking on President Barack Obama with the same issue he used against her in the 2008 Democratic primary: foreign-policy vision.

    Mr Obama lacks a specific doctrine, according to an interview by magazine The Atlantic with Mrs Clinton, the unannounced presidential candidate who is leading Democrats and Republicans in 2016 polling.

    "Great nations need organising principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organising principle," Mrs Clinton told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, in reference to the way Mr Obama and his aides describe his approach to foreign policy.

    That's a "political message" and "not his world view", she said.

    Mrs Clinton's effort to show differences with Mr Obama - which began with the release of her book, Hard Choices, in June - reflects a new political reality. The hardline policies that hurt her with a war-weary Democratic base in 2008 aren't as significant, now that polls show the party is unified behind her.

    It also has become necessary for Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama's first secretary of state, to draw contrasts, as his approval ratings have cratered. Thirty-six per cent of Americans approve of Mr Obama's handling of foreign policy, and 48 per cent disapprove, according to a CBS News poll conducted from July 29 to Aug 4.

    Mrs Clinton's criticism is a reversal from her 2009 Senate confirmation testimony, in which she embraced as her own an Obama vision that was conspicuously lacking specific principles.

    In The Atlantic's interview, she said Mr Obama is "thoughtful" and "incredibly smart".

    She drew a distinction with Mr Obama over the policy in Syria, where civil war erupted in 2011. As the then secretary of state, Mrs Clinton advocated the provision of training and equipment for moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army battling President Bashar al-Assad.