Republican critics and others have faulted Obama for doing too
little to support Syrians who rose up against President Bashar
al-Assad. Syria has been torn apart by a civil war for three years,
with Assad staying in power and Islamic militants among the
opposition gaining strength.
"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the
people who were the originators of the protests against Assad -
there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything
in the middle - the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the
jihadists have now filled," Clinton said in an interview with The
Clinton was Obama's secretary of state during his first term as
president, stepping down in early 2013, so she was part of the
administration during the start of the Syria uprising. Seen as a
possible strong contender for the 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential
nomination, she ran unsuccessfully against Obama for the party's
nomination in 2008.
Asked about Obama's slogan of "Donít do stupid stuff" to describe
his foreign policy thinking, Clinton said, "Great nations need
organizing principles, and 'Donít do stupid stuffí is not an
In the interview, Clinton also offered strong support for Israel and
for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has a tense relationship
Israel has drawn international condemnation for the deaths of
Palestinian non-combatants in Gaza and the destruction of thousands
of homes during its month of war with the Islamist movement Hamas.
The Obama administration, while supporting Israel's right to defend
itself, has rebuked Israel at least once during the current conflict
over the deaths of civilians.
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"I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the (Hamas)
rockets. Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has
taken to embed rockets and command and control facilities and tunnel
entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel
difficult," Clinton said.
Questioned about whether Israel has taken enough steps to prevent
the deaths of civilians including children, Clinton said the United
States also tries to be careful to avoid civilian casualties in war
but sometimes mistakes are made.
"We've made them. I donít know a nation, no matter what its values
are - and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better
values in a conflict position - that hasnít made errors, but
ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas,Ē Clinton added.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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