Clinton faults Obama for rise of ISIS

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Foreign policy decisions under President Obama have allowed Islamic terrorists to gain a better footing in the Middle East, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week.

Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential contender, told The Atlantic in an interview published Sunday that the failure to build up Syrian rebels battling President Bashar Assad "left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."

Some have criticized Obama for not helping Syrian rebels early on in the rebellion in order to combat al Qaeda-inspired terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has since taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

"It is striking, however, that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS — or ISIL — is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq," Clinton said.

On nuclear talks with Iran, which Obama has approached carefully, Clinton said, "it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran," adding, "little or no enrichment has always been my position."

The U.S. has hoped to punish Russia with sanctions, but Clinton compared President Vladimir Putin's push for resurgent nationalism to "jihadi Islam."

"You have Russia massing battalions — Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member state — and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea," she said.

She also highlighted the foreign policy work of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and herself in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Clinton said Obama's political message on foreign policy might be different from his worldview, noting, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don’t do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

Her own organizing tactic? "Peace, progress and prosperity."