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News Analysis: Hillary Clinton's foreign policy stance a callback to husband's presidency

English.news.cn   2014-08-15 07:57:33

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Hillary Clinton, U.S. President Barack Obama's secretary of state during his first term, has indicated her foreign policy would be more muscular than that of the current administration, and some experts said Clinton's stance most closely resembles that of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

"She will be more likely to intervene when America's interests are threatened. The past president whose policies she is most likely to resemble is Bill Clinton. She feels that the 1990s was a great decade for America on economic and foreign policy," Brookings Institution senior fellow Darrel West told Xinhua.

He said Obama saw his foreign policy mission as winding down unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he has not been eager to send American troops to war or use the country's air power.

In a bid to publicly distance herself from what many critics are calling Obama's failed foreign policy, Clinton earlier this week labeled the U.S. decision not to intervene in Syria a " failure."

In a move meant to widen the space between herself and a president increasingly billed by critics as having ignored Iraq and Russia until events blew up in his face -- namely, a powerful terrorist force in Iraq and the Ukrainian crisis -- the likely 2016 presidential candidate blasted Obama's foreign policy slogan of "Don't do stupid stuff."

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff'is not an organizing principle," she told The Atlantic monthly in an interview earlier this week.

West said that women candidates for president have to prove they are tough on foreign policy, so Clinton is seeking to inoculate herself from coming GOP attacks that she is soft on defense.

"By making some tough comments and mildly criticizing the president ... she is positioning herself for the general election campaign," West said.

Some experts said Clinton will have to dial back such rhetoric somewhat during the primaries.

"This is about posturing for 2016. But (Clinton) has to watch it. The big take here is that she's taking a general election position on foreign policy precisely because she doesn't think she 's going to have a credible challenger in the 2016 presidential primary," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

But her rhetoric can only go so far, and if it veers too far away from progressive Democrats' views, she may face a challenge from that wing of the party.

"She's got wiggle room to differentiate herself from Obama, but she can only go so far," O'Connell said.

Clinton also voiced solid support in the interview for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Obama does not see eye-to-eye on a number of issues related to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Clinton said Israel "did what it had to do to respond to the rockets" that Hamas launched into Israeli civilian population centers in recent weeks, and that the Jewish state "has a right to defend itself."

She added that an Israeli response is difficult because Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, has taken steps to " embed rockets and command and control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas."

When asked about whether Israel had worked hard enough to prevent the deaths of innocents caught in the crossfire, she said the United States is careful to avoid such casualties but at times makes mistakes.

"I don't know a nation, no matter what its values are ... that hasn't made errors," she said, but added that ultimately "the responsibility rests with Hamas."

That take on the conflict stands in sharp contrast to that of the Obama administration, which has had much friction with Israel over the Gaza crisis.

Editor: Yang Yi
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