Should Hillary Clinton weigh in on Syria?
September 3rd, 2013
11:57 AM ET
10 years ago

Should Hillary Clinton weigh in on Syria?

(CNN) - As major developments unfold in Syria, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke her recent silence on Twitter to...congratulate Diana Nyad.

"Flying to 112 countries is a lot until you consider swimming between 2. Feels like I swim with sharks – but you actually did it! Congrats!" Clinton posted on Twitter Monday evening, referring to Nyad's record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective shark cage.

But Republicans were quick to pounce on the possible 2016 presidential candidate. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ari Fleischer argued Clinton should be speaking out about the crisis in Syria, where Obama administration officials say chemical weapons were used last month.

"On Syria, what does Hillary say? Walker, Christie, Cuomo, O'Malley too. Would-be leaders should take a stand," he wrote Tuesday on Twitter, but then added a specific slam against Clinton. "At least Governors can say they're focused on other issues/don't have all the facts. Hillary has no right to remain silent."

The group that's behind "Stop Hillary 2016"–a campaign to tarnish Clinton's reputation as she considers a presidential bid–pushed out an email Monday night with a BuzzFeed article highlighting the fact that Clinton's first tweet in two weeks was about Nyad's swimming feat, not Syria.

But Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala, who was also a senior political adviser to former President Bill Clinton, said he's not surprised by the criticism.

"Of course, given that it's Hillary, everything she says – or does not say – is going to be criticized. She'd be getting grief if she were weighing in, for Pete's sake," he said. "We can only have one Secretary of State at a time, and I don't think folks should attack her for letting Secretary Kerry lead the department he now runs."

In addition to pushing for diplomatic efforts to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, Clinton backed a proposal last year to provide weapons to Syrian rebels when she served as secretary of state.

Clinton also issued warnings in January shortly before leaving office about Iran's involvement in Syria, saying the country was supplying al-Assad's regime with military supplies. She urged Iran, as well as Russia, to reconsider their aid to war-torn country.

Clinton further defended her role as the nation's top diplomat in the situation.

"I've done what was possible to do," she told reporters.

She could have a chance to publicly comment on Syria this month. Clinton has a speech scheduled next week in Philadelphia, where she has said she'll talk about national security. The annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City also takes place later this month–an event that focuses on global issues.

Should she decide to run for president in 2016, Clinton is well aware that anything she says now can be used for or against her in the next few years.

Clinton was one of 29 Democrats who voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, which gave President George W. Bush's administration the go-ahead to eventually send U.S. troops to Iraq.

That vote came back to hurt Clinton years later, as she was battling then-Sen. Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Even now, America Rising, the political action committee behind the Stop Hillary 2016 effort, made a blog post Tuesday highlighting her Iraq War vote.

"In justifying her vote for the Iraq war, Hillary Clinton invoked Saddam's pursuit of chemical and biological weapons," read an email advertising the blog post. "Given intelligence indicating Assad's use of them, would Hillary use the same justification to support action in Syria? To date, she has avoided the topic altogether."

Syria vote could have consequences for 2016

Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Syria
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. If I had a hammer... I'd whack you in the morning

    damned if she does or doesn't that up to the roll of the political dice. Mankind's collective conscious as a whole has short term memory leaks.

    September 3, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. SuperJ


    September 3, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Jean

    She should keep her mouth shut. Traveling to 112 countries doesn't make you a substantive Secretary of State. Drop the most traveled Sec'y of State moniker from the equation and you are left with virtually nothing but a mess. On Syria she should remain quiet she is after all the one that referred to Assad as a "reformer" and that was in 2011 AFTER he used force on his own people during mass demonstrations. Foreign policy has been a debacle for Obama and his band of incompetents from Day 1 – it's a joke. Makes you want to laugh and cry – laugh at how ridiculously incompetent they really are and cry at how they have ruined the reputation of the US. Obama is a weka joke to some of our most vile and dangerous enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy this great country and also seen as weak and unreliable by some of our most solid allies (now wavering allies). What a mess.

    September 3, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Rose Garcia

    Hillary Clinton should not speak publicly about Syria. She is no longer in the executive office nor a member of Congress. And, we all know that she will criticized for anything she says. So any criticism for not speaking would be ridiculous as would be the person who criticizes her for not speaking.

    September 3, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Madeline

    The importance of Hilllary Clinton has been blown so out of proportion that she's become like one of those huge baloons on the Macy's day parade; very large in the fleld of view but consisting of nothing but 99% hot air or other gas.

    September 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Madeline

    The importance of Hilllary Clinton has been enlarged so out of proportion that she's become like one of those huge baloons on the Macy's day parade; very large in the fleld of view but consisting of nothing but 99% hot air or other gas.

    September 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. roosty

    Why should Hillary say anything? Republicans will take whatever she says and turn it into spin against her when it comes to 2016 elections. Damned if she does and damned if she doesn't is the truth!
    I think she should remain silent and take the job as next president of the United States. Republicans just cannot ever be that smart.

    September 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Madeline

    Hillary Clinton is NOT an elected official. She has absolutely NO business "weighing in." The only purpose for CNN suggesting this is to try to give her an air of credibility, but it's purely politically motivated. They certainly would NOT have asked and did NOT ask Ronald Reagan's opinion even though he was president.

    September 3, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Jim

    Why is Hillary even in this equation? Oh, that's right, they want to keep her relevant for the 2016 elections.

    September 3, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. volsocal

    I don't have anything nice to say.

    September 3, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Chuck

    Why should she weigh in, she bailed on her job

    September 3, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. ireuel

    No; on this yes on Libya.

    September 3, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Red

    If anyone has earned the right to speak about Syria, it is Hillary Clinton. Her life has been devoted to serving this country.

    September 3, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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