Patterico's Pontifications

8/10/2014

Hillary: Obama’s Syrian Policy a “Failure”; Also Criticizes Obama’s “Don’t Do Stupid Shit” Formulation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:03 pm

In an interview published today in The Atlantic, Hillary Clinton calls Obama’s failure to back Syrian rebels a “failure,” and also criticizes Obama’s ridiculous “Don’t do stupid shit” foreign policy principle.

Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the “failure” that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“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,” Clinton said.

I hate to agree with Obama on anything, but I disagree with Clinton here. Some of the Syrian rebels have pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda. Why would we help Al Qaeda and its allies in Syria while trying to destroy them elsewhere?

If the Iraq war has taught us anything, it is that government actions often have intended consequences. Saddam Hussein was a horrible guy — but the forces he held in check, that have now been set loose upon the country, are no picnic themselves. Destabilizing a bad guy in power is not always the best thing to do. As Ted Cruz once observed:

Of nine major rebel groups, seven of them may well have some significant ties to Al Qaeda. And if Assad is toppled and replaced by a radical Islamist regime, what would be truly dangerous for the United States–for our allies like Israel and Jordan–is for a radical Islamist government to seize control of [the] chemical weapons and to deploy them, against us or our allies.

Check out Obama’s illegal war in Libya for another example of the genius of government foreign policy interventionism. Hooray for radical Islamists being in charge and militants having a ready sanctuary! Can we get more of that?

Hillary is on more solid ground when mocking Obama’s idiotic “Don’t do stupid shit” line:

At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters).

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

She softened the blow by noting that Obama was “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,” but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage.

No sane person is reassured by an American president telling journalists that his policy is “Don’t do stupid shit.” That right there is some stupid shit. Criticizing Obama for that is a no-brainer, but it’s interesting to note that the distancing has begun.

[Said in a stage whisper:] Dude, I think she might be running!


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