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On arming Syrian rebels, Clinton was against it before she was for it (and the anti-war crowd isn't happy)

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton,2016 Elections,Syria,Bashar Assad,Becket Adams

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would like you to think that she is now at odds with the White House over how best to resolve the crises in Iraq and Syria.

And it appears that Clinton's newfound support for arming the opposition to Syria's Bashar Assad, along with her recent criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Iraq, has earned her a sharp rebuke from the anti-war political action group MoveOn.

“Secretary Clinton, and any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today," the group's executive director, Ilya Sheyman, said in a statement.

"These hawkish policy stances are also threatening to undermine the peaceful international resolution of Iran's nuclear program. Voters elected President Obama in 2008 to bring the war in Iraq to an end. MoveOn members will continue to stand with elected officials who oppose military escalation that could put us back on a path to endless war.”

However, like most things in Clinton's political career, her policy positions aren't exactly rooted in principle. In regards to her take on Syria, for example, she has merely realigned her views to match popular opinion, the latest attempt to distance herself from an increasingly unpopular White House as she feels out a possible 2016 bid.

“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 Atlantic.

Of course, this is the exact opposite of what Clinton said in 2012 when she headed the State Department, arguing often and loudly against arming the Syrian rebels.

“What are we going to arm them with and against what? We’re not going to bring tanks over the borders of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan,” she said.

“We know al Qaeda [leader Ayman al-] Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria?” she added. “If you’re a military planner or if you’re a secretary of state and you’re trying to figure out do you have the elements of an opposition that is actually viable, that we don’t see.”


And, of course, we have an account this week from the New York Times that asserts Clinton’s support for arming the rebels was indeed “far less thunderous” when the Obama administration considered the option a few years ago.

So there you have it: Has Clinton merely evolved on the issue since leaving State? Or does she support arming Assad's opposition because hindsight says so?

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