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Bill Clinton to Obama: Don’t be a ‘wuss’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton thinks President Obama risks looking like a “wuss” if he refuses to provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition, especially if that decision seems driven by the American people’s dislike for the idea of intervening.

“[Y]ou’d look like a total wuss,” Clinton said during an event for the McCain Institute for International Leadership, per Politico. “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.”

The former president added that Obama would be foolish to “over-learn the lessons of the past,” arguing that Syria is not like Iraq or Afghanistan of the last decade. “Nobody is asking for American soldiers in Syria,” he also 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?”

Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad has been using chemical weapons to fight his people — an act that President Obama said would cross a “red line,” which implied the threat of U.S. action. The situation is complicated, though, by the presence of al-Qaeda affiliates among the opposition.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently visited the Syrian rebels. He reportedly posed, by mistake, with terrorists. “A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the Senator complied,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. “If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact [alleged kidnapper] Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible. Senator McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms.”

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