This has to be a particularly uncomfortable moment for Hillary Clinton. She was an architect of this Syrian dilemma by omission and commission. Her team has been hoping we would ignore that. The statement that was released on her behalf was nuanced for deniability. Like her vote on Iraq, spineless.
“Secretary Clinton supports the president’s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime’s horrific use of chemical weapons.”
There is no escape for this pretender this time. And it really doesn’t matter that the situation in the Middle East is the culmination of a decade or more of national arrogance that overlays a crumbling economic foundation. Ms. Clinton bought a permanent stake in this when she cast her vote at that very important moment supporting George Bush’s war. When she had an opportunity to redeem herself and demonstrate her moxie as Secretary of State, she didn’t.
There have been too many missteps to count regarding Syria alone. And throughout this period, her understudy, Susan Rice, now the National Security Advisor, was completely ineffective in her role as Ambassador to the United Nations. Every bit of this has Hillary’s signature all over it. And this will weigh her down throughout her campaign for 2016.
The Russian reset is part and parcel of this situation; Hillary owns that. At a time when Clinton’s State Department team was sending out feelers to Assad’s opposition, inviting representatives to meet with our Ambassador to Syria, we were handing Assad’s benefactor a trump card. Unexpectedly, as the opposition transitioned to the use of organized violence, something happened to change Hillary’s opinion of Assad and to cast him as a reformer. No wonder the Russians and their client read the tea leaves the way they did. Meanwhile, Senator McCain was allowed or maybe even encouraged to traipse around the region as though he had any ability to discern the situation on the ground. But that fit with Hillary’s penchant for wanting to have it both ways. The United States could be seen supporting both sides.
Take the statement by Clinton in April 2011 painting Bashar al-Assad as a reformer. When there should have been groundwork ratcheting up diplomacy and work to press sanctions against the use of force against protestors, Rice instead pulled an in-your-face attempt to sanction Assad in the Security Council. Of course that failed. She blamed the Russians, our new friends according to Clinton, and the Chinese, our important trading partner. Why? Rice, like Clinton, did not understand national interests, ours or theirs. But that is integral to the Hillary approach to diplomacy. Like everything she does, it is a function of national sentiment rather than national strategy.
And that is reflected in that initial statement from her spokesperson. National sentiment demands Congressional review. That portion of Obama’s position she can back. Now she can only hope she does not have to choose between supporting Obama and remaining on the side of the current popular wave.