By Niall Stanage - 08/12/14 06:00 AM EDT
Hillary Clinton’s recent interview with The Atlantic featured some of her toughest criticism yet of President Obama.
She put new sharpness into her long-standing belief that the United States should have moved faster to arm Syrian rebels fighting against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
“The failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” she said.
The forcefulness of her rejection of a key Obama foreign-policy maxim — “don’t do stupid stuff” — was also telling.
“Great nations need organizing principles,” she said “And ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
Still, these are far from the first instances of Clinton putting distance between herself and the president she served as secretary of State.
Here are six other examples:
Iran nuclear deal
Last November, the Obama administration, five other major world powers and Iran announced an interim deal on the future of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Under the terms, Iran agreed to freeze some of the infrastructure around its nuclear effort and halted the installation of new centrifuges that could be used to enrich uranium. In return, some sanctions were eased.
The deal was intended to be a way station en route to a comprehensive deal. But, addressing an American Jewish Congress gala in March, Clinton made her skepticism plain.
“The odds of reaching that comprehensive agreement are not good,” she said. “I am also personally skeptical that the Iranians would follow through and deliver. I have seen their behavior over the years.”
Clinton avoided directly answering whether she would have approved the deal with the Taliban that freed U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal in May. Former officials, widely presumed to be Clinton allies, said that she would have preferred to strike a tougher deal.
According to a CNN.com report in early June, “Clinton did not trust the Haqqani network believed to have held him, the former officials said, and was skeptical that the trade would lead to peace with the Taliban.”
The allegation that U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted calls on Angela Merkel’s cellphone infuriated the German chancellor when it emerged in October 2013.
Merkel called President Obama to complain directly, her spokesman telling reporters, “She unmistakably disapproves of, and views as completely unacceptable, such practices.”
In a Fox News interview in June, Clinton lambasted the snooping.
“It was absolutely uncalled for. There is work that we need to do with the Germans and inside Germany,” she said. “That has nothing to do with Angela Merkel’s cellphone and that should be off-limits.”
IRS targeting controversy
In the same Fox News interview, Clinton was asked about the controversy over the IRS and its apparent targeting of political groups.
Asked about President Obama’s description of the issue as a “phony scandal,” Clinton demurred.
“I think that any time the IRS is involved, for many people it’s a real scandal,” she said. “I don’t have the details but I think what President Obama means is there was not a lot of evidence this was deliberate, but that’s why the investigation needs to continue.”
In her book Hard Choices, Clinton asserts that she sought to persuade President Obama to lift or ease the embargo on Cuba.
She has amplified her argument in other public appearances. In a late July interview with the Fusion television network, she said: “I think it has propped up the Castros because they can blame everything on the embargo.”
She also noted, however, that Obama had eased some restrictions during his first term and that she had supported those moves.
The ‘selling’ of the United States
In an interview last month with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Clinton complained that the United States — and, by implication, the Obama administration — was not communicating effectively.
“We have to go back out and sell ourselves. It is not to be taken for granted,” she said. “What do we stand for and how do we intend to lead and manage? How do we try to enlist the rest of the world in this struggle between cooperation and order and conflict and disorder which is really at the root of so much that’s going on today? And I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of that.”
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