Bill Clinton: Obama should support Syria rebels or risk looking like a total fool

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Bill Clinton told Sen. John McCain he agrees that President Barack Obama should act more forcefully to support anti-Assad rebels in Syria, saying the American public elects presidents and members of Congress “to see down the road” and “to win.”

At another point during a closed-press event Tuesday, Clinton implied that Obama or any president risks looking like “a total fool” if they listen too closely to opinion polls and act too cautiously. He used his own decisions on Kosovo and Bosnia as a point of reference.

The former president also said commanders-in-chief should avoid over-interpreting public opinion polls about whether the United States should get involved in crises overseas.
His remarks came during a question-and-answer session with McCain, who has been among Obama’s harshest critics over what he calls a failure to take “decisive” action in Syria. Obama has come under growing pressure to step up American intervention by sending military and other assistance to the rebels.

“Some people say, ‘Okay, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!’ I think that’s a big mistake. I agree with you about this,” Clinton told McCain during an event for the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Manhattan Tuesday night. “Sometimes it’s just best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t overcommit — like, as long as you don’t make an improvident commitment.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The remark from Clinton came as McCain, who recently took a trip to Syria and met with moderate rebel commanders, has ratcheted up his criticism that Obama has been feckless in the face of growing strength by President Bashar Assad in the civil war. McCain gave an address after the trip about the growing problems in the Middle East, saying the U.S. needs to seize the moment.

“Nobody is asking for American soldiers in Syria,” Clinton said. “The only question is now that the Russians, the Iranians and the Hezbollah are in there head over heels, 90 miles to nothing, should we try to do something to try to slow their gains and rebalance the power so that these rebel groups have a decent chance, if they’re supported by a majority of the people, to prevail?”

The event was closed to the press, but POLITICO listened to audio of portions of it recorded by an attendee. Clinton, whose wife stepped down as Obama’s Secretary of State at the end of January, has largely stayed away from offering foreign policy views while Hillary Clinton was serving in the president’s administration.

She had supported a plan that then-CIA head Gen. David Petraeus drew up to arm a vetted group of rebels, but it was put aside after his extra-marital affair scandal and her head injury following a severe virus.

My view is that we shouldn’t over-learn the lessons of the past,” Clinton said. “I don’t think Syria is necessarily Iraq or Afghanistan — no one has asked us to send any soldiers in there. I think it’s more like Afghanistan was in the ’80s when they were fighting the Soviet Union … when President Reagan was in office [and] got an enormous amount of influence and gratitude by helping to topple the Soviet-backed regime and then made the error of not hanging around in Afghanistan” to try to cash in on the gains.

The social media-driven revolutions can’t supplant having bodies to build a sustainable new government, Clinton added.

Clinton, who McCain also asked about his own decision-making process on the violence in Kosovo and Bosnia when he was president, expounded on what the public means in opinion polls when it expresses disapproval of foreign intervention.

“What the American people are saying when they tell you not to do these things, they’re not telling you not to do these things,” he said, but instead, they’re urging caution. “They hire you to win … to look around the corner and see down the road.”

Clinton did not call for specific measures to aid the Syrian rebels. McCain has urged Obama to enforce a no-fly zone in the country to give rebels a “safe zone” to fight the Assad regime.

Clinton repeatedly said it would be “lame” to blame a lack of intervention on opposition in polls or among members of Congress.

If Clinton had ever blamed a lack of action because “there was a poll in the morning paper that said 80 percent of you were against it … you’d look like a total wuss,” he said. “And you would be. I don’t mean that a leader should go out of his way or her way to do the unpopular thing, I simply mean when people are telling you ‘no’ in these situations, very often what they’re doing is flashing a giant yellow light and saying, ‘For God’s sakes, be careful, tell us what you’re doing, think this through, be careful.”

Clinton continued, “But still they hire their president to look around the corner and down the street, and you just think – if you refuse to act and you cause a calamity, the one thing you cannot say when all the eggs have been broken, is that, ‘Oh my God, two years ago there was a poll that said 80 percent of you were against it.’ Right? You’d look like a total fool. So you really have to in the end trust the American people, tell them what you’re doing, and hope to God you can sell it” and that it turns out okay in the end.

Politico

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36 responses to “Bill Clinton: Obama should support Syria rebels or risk looking like a total fool”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    Poor Clinton …. we know the ‘improvident commitment’ that he made. 😉
    That it affected his ‘political life’ is a stupidity of the USA, of course.

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      you monica clinton nica

    2. dateam Avatar

      That or when he bombed a supposed weapons factory in sudan which turned out to be a UN food storage warehouse?

      1. AntiFSA Avatar

        They can do as they please as they believe they are the police of the world. As long as they say op’s our mistake and we are sorry, this should cure all wounds. In my opinion, the end of the mighty US is coming. If history has taught us anything, every powerful country that has tried to dominate the world will eventually fall. The US is no different.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          And then, Anti, all Islamists should fail as well. World Domination is what they want, right? Liberty from the Quran cannot be allowed. 😉

  2. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    Poor Clinton …. we know the ‘improvident commitment’ that he made. 😉
    That it affected his ‘political life’ is a stupidity of the USA, of course.

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      you monica clinton nica

    2. dateam Avatar

      That or when he bombed a supposed weapons factory in sudan which turned out to be a UN food storage warehouse?

      1. AntiFSA Avatar

        They can do as they please as they believe they are the police of the world. As long as they say op’s our mistake and we are sorry, this should cure all wounds. In my opinion, the end of the mighty US is coming to an end. If history has taught us anything, every powerful country that has tried to dominate the world will eventually fall. The US is no different.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          And then, Anti, all Islamists should fail as well. World Domination is what they want, right? Liberty from the Quran cannot be allowed. 😉

  3. Btru2u Avatar

    Obama should realise sooner rather than later that, Doing the right thing is to not to let the oppressing genocidal tyrants win, even if you lack the influence you want to force upon the region. The longer they leave it the more damage that will be done to the cause, and yes USA will be seen to be responsible for allowing these events to take place, because the so called good people did nothing. And that message will reverberate throughout the future and throughout history. That message will be that we did not have the balls to to stand with the side we cheered for, but allowed our enemies ( oppressors) to stand against us because the polls in our countrywere wavering.

  4. Btru2u Avatar

    Obama should realise sooner rather than later that, Doing the right thing is to not to let the oppressing genocidal tyrants win, even if you lack the influence you want to force upon the region. The longer they leave it the more damage that will be done to the cause, and yes USA will be seen to be responsible for allowing these events to take place, because the so called good people did nothing. And that message will reverberate throughout the future and throughout history. That message will be that we did not have the balls to to stand with the side we cheered for, but allowed our enemies ( oppressors) to stand against us because the polls in our countrywere wavering.

  5. Amine123 Avatar
    Amine123

    Obama is a double talker, he backed off on the settlement issues and now he is backing off on Syria/./
    The time has come to act, otherwise Iran will end up controlling the whole region

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      mister clinton need monica for kosica

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar
        5thDrawer

        Are you Dab’s cousin?? 😉

        1. AntiFSA Avatar

          lol

        2. Patience2 Avatar
          Patience2

          Mentor.

  6. Amine123 Avatar
    Amine123

    Obama is a double talker, he backed off on the settlement issues and now he is backing off on Syria/./
    The time has come to act, otherwise Iran will end up controlling the whole region

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      mister clinton need monica for kosica

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar
        5thDrawer

        Are you Dab’s cousin?? 😉

        1. AntiFSA Avatar

          lol

        2. Patience2 Avatar
          Patience2

          Mentor.

  7. Btru2u Avatar

    Muslims know not to trust in America but to trust in Allah and be patient. The mujahideen are the ones with real honour , even as they pay the ultimate price. “Oh Muslims come to that which gives you life , and do not take the disbelievers as your protectors and allies, as they will not fail to corrupt you.

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      yes mister, allat no drink whisky

      1. AntiFSA Avatar

        I absolutely love your user name. It fits Assir perfect. lol

    2. Here we go. Never fails! You say that America will be blamed for inaction on Syria, yet you say muslims know not to trust America, but trust in Allah. Well make up your mind! America is damned if she does and damned if she dosen’t. You know by now that help will be coming, what will you say next?

  8. Btru2u Avatar

    Muslims know not to trust in America but to trust in Allah and be patient. The mujahideen are the ones with real honour , even as they pay the ultimate price. “Oh Muslims come to that which gives you life , and do not take the disbelievers as your protectors and allies, as they will not fail to corrupt you.

    1. ImamAssirALLouti Avatar
      ImamAssirALLouti

      yes mister, allat no drink whisky

      1. AntiFSA Avatar

        I absolutely love your user name. It fits Assir perfect. lol

    2. Here we go. Never fails! You say that America will be blamed for inaction on Syria, yet you say muslims know not to trust America, but trust in Allah. Well make up your mind! America is damned if she does and damned if she dosen’t. You know by now that help will be coming, what will you say next?

  9. Reasonableman Avatar
    Reasonableman

    Anxious to act against the polls with the waves of protests around the globe, people are already labelling obama as an islamist.
    the rebels just need weapons not intervention, now how can americans win a share or a part of syria just by sending weapons? They cant!!hence they stress chemical weapons and want to make an excuse for intervention if they can’t find one then they will stay idle.
    The syrian people know how to play the game just aswell with or without america or europe they will be victorious the roar of victory will shake the globe.
    A message from me to bashar whose intelligence most likely visit these websites to feed on what people opinions are. Do you not know that even a mosquitoe can find a way to kill you? Have you not read the demise of previous pharoe’s? Repent and fear the one who created you and give the syrians there rights!

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      The poor mosquito … castigated again …. when it’s the much smaller bugs who hitched a ride and which it carries to reproduction-food sources that ‘want’ to be injected to kill you. 😉

  10. Reasonableman Avatar
    Reasonableman

    Anxious to act against the polls with the waves of protests around the globe, people are already labelling obama as an islamist.
    the rebels just need weapons not intervention, now how can americans win a share or a part of syria just by sending weapons? They cant!!hence they stress chemical weapons and want to make an excuse for intervention if they can’t find one then they will stay idle.
    The syrian people know how to play the game just aswell with or without america or europe they will be victorious the roar of victory will shake the globe.
    A message from me to bashar whose intelligence most likely visit these websites to feed on what people opinions are. Do you not know that even a mosquitoe can find a way to kill you? Have you not read the demise of previous pharoe’s? Repent and fear the one who created you and give the syrians there rights!

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      The poor mosquito … castigated again …. when it’s the much smaller bugs who hitched a ride and which it carries to reproduction-food sources that ‘want’ to be injected to kill you. 😉

  11. Patience2 Avatar
    Patience2

    He looks like a ‘fool’ now — he should do this to avoid adding ‘total’ to his description.

  12. Patience2 Avatar
    Patience2

    He looks like a ‘fool’ now — he should do this to avoid adding ‘total’ to his description.

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