Hillary Clinton talks of Obama's 'cautious' foreign policy

Hillary Rodham Clinton is showing signs of distancing herself from President Obama's foreign policy.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic, published early Sunday, the former secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate touched on areas where she disagrees with her former Democratic primary rival and boss.

One area of difference is on what to do about Syrian rebels challenging President Bashar Assad, as neighboring Iraq fought the rise of an al-Qaeda splinter group. Clinton wanted to arm the Syrian rebels; Obama did not.

The United States, meanwhile, is continuing airstrikes today in Iraq against the militant group known as ISIS.

"I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled," Clinton told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. "They were often armed in an indiscriminate way by other forces and we had no skin in the game that really enabled us to prevent this indiscriminate arming."

Clinton also discussed her break with Obama on Syriain her memoir, Hard Choices.

Also in The Atlantic interview, Clinton suggested Obama is currently being "cautious" on foreign policy and argued that the president's philosophy of "don't do stupid stuff" may not be a driving force for the United States.

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle," Clinton said. "It may be a necessary brake on the actions you might take in order to promote a vision."

She praised Obama as "thoughtful," "incredibly smart" and "able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time."

"I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited, both the two wars and the economic front, and he has expended a lot of capital and energy trying to pull us out of the hole we're in," Clinton said. "So I think that's a political message. It's not a worldview, if that makes sense to you."


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