Hillary Clinton’s spinners are desperate to assure voters that on the Islamic State, “She would have taken a more aggressive approach.” You see, “It’s the very notion of decisiveness. She’s not gnashing her teeth the way we’re seeing time and time again with [President] Obama.” But really, when has Clinton been decisive, gotten ahead of an issue and put politics aside to tell Americans the straight scoop?
The GOP group America Rising caught her on tape mouthing the same pablum as Obama. She sure doesn’t sound decisive. Even worse, if the test is support for acting sooner and more robustly before the Islamic State took hold, she flunks. Recall in September 2013 — Clinton was long gone from Foggy Bottom — Obama drew the red line, then punted to Congress and then was happy to let the Russians disarm, while avoiding significant support for the Free Syrian Army and ruling out U.S. military action. What did Clinton do? She cheered:
She adhered to the White House line on Russia’s proposal earlier in the day that Syria relinquish chemical weapons to international control to avert a possible U.S. military strike, which Obama is trying to get Congress to approve. . . Clinton said Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons “violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order” and “demands a strong response” from the world led by the United States.” But did she advocate direct military action? CNN reported, “Clinton did not say whether military action, as proposed by Obama, would be the best course. But she emphasized she will support the president and argued a ‘political solution that ends the conflict is in the interest of the United States.’ “
That sure sounds just as calculating and equivocal as the president has been. In her book, she let on that she had quietly pushed for more action on Syria while in office. But has she given a single speech — she has been handsomely paid for a whole bunch of them — explaining the vacuum left in Syria and Iraq due to our premature exit and failure to usher out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the man she called “a reformer”? If so, it didn’t get out.
In fact, Clinton was asleep at the wheel just like the president. She did not see the rejuvenation of al-Qaeda coming and recognize trouble in Libya until our people were killed. She joined the Obama team after its victory lap for the assassination of Osama bin Laden. She was happy to deliver on the president’s promise to withdraw all troops from Iraq, until that looked like a rotten decision and she took to blaming the George W. Bush administration for her own failure to secure a status-of-forces agreement. Since leaving office, she has not publicly advocated for an increase in defense spending (as former colleagues in the Obama administration have done). The only one less credible as a visionary and hawk is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who despite born-again support for military action insists falsely that our action in Syria (which never happened) emboldened the Islamic State.
Is Clinton prepared to advocate boots on the ground, if that is what it takes, and criticize self-imposed limits on U.S. action? Is she going to stop hiding behind Iraqi political reconciliation as a precondition for more decisive U.S. military action? I can’t wait to hear. If you want to hear someone who has been courageous and foresighted, look at the interviews and writings of Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria. Compare them to Clinton’s. Who is the decisive and bold one?
The Clintons are infamous for having it every which way. No doubt the mainstream media will continue to gloss over her inconsistencies and lack of political courage when it mattered most. But her future 2016 opponents should call foul. She is an opportunist, not a hawk. Rewriting history doesn’t make her a visionary; it is implicit recognition (why else would she need a rewrite?) that she has, like Obama, been following, not leading. Catching up to the zeitgeist, as Obama and Paul are trying to do, does not qualify her as president. It suggests she is no more fit to be commander in chief than they are.