Should Hillary Clinton weigh in on Syria?
September 3rd, 2013
11:57 AM ET
9 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. Rhonda Rahn

    Hillary is not Secretary of State. Christie is governor of NJ. Neither needs to take a stand at this point, although it would be interesting and very telling if they would.

    September 3, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    "....Ari Fleischer argued Clinton should be speaking out about the crisis in Syria, where Obama administration officials say chemical weapons were used last month. "
    That's exactly what loose cannons would do....and so far most of the loose cannons calling for action have been on the right. Yet, the same loose cannons on the right blame the president for "telegraphing our strategy" to Assad. Isn't there something hypocritically wrong with that picture? You spill the beans but blame your opponent for doing it. Hey, it's what Republicans do!

    September 3, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. ST

    CNN , will you please stop needling people. Why should Hillary weigh in on Syria? What capacity/title does she hold at the moment? Am very, very disappointed the way of reporting news is now, quite different as it was one, two or three decades ago. Journalists then were very sensible, reasonable and understood what they were doing. What about you???

    September 3, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. DBL STD

    If she is smart...she wont.

    September 3, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    Why should she? She isn't SOS anymore.

    September 3, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Dave Rogers

    The last thing we need is candidates who are clear on the issues. We prefer candidates to have vague philosophical leanings that might differ from each other.. but not actual policies..

    September 3, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. O'drama ya Mama

    So are you accepting her leadership or do you have underlying motives? Perhaps you need some incriminating soundbites for 2016?

    September 3, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Zerubbabel

    Fear runs amok, in all areas of their lives, in the GOP.

    September 3, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Milton Platt

    Hillary Clinton is currently a private citizen and need not speak out about anything. If she runs for office, he questions can be asked then.

    September 3, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. rs

    Why not? Ms. Clinton was a remarkable Sect. of State (especially over the last administration), and is still doing more than most of the GOP in Congress- who Mr. Obama wants opinions and input from.

    September 3, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Lord Helpus

    I thought that Bill was a great President but it's time for the whole family to ride into the historical sunset. Would she even be in the running if her husband isn't a former President? I dont think so. No more epotism in the Whitehouse please. We've seen what that leads to with the Bush family. Step aside.and give America a break.

    September 3, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. mike in NH

    No she should follow the examples of Bill and the Bush's and keep quiet. Not here place and if it goes badly it will get used against her in 2016.

    September 3, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. tomj

    YES, she should oppose it!

    September 3, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Me

    She'll say nothing because there will be consequences whether we do nothing or something – then, she can blame whoever is convenient to blame, and takes no responsibility for whatever may go wrong for doing something or nothing.

    September 3, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. us_1776

    This is not the time for Mrs. Clinton to comment.

    As former Secretary of State she should leave all comments to Secretary Kerry at this point.


    September 3, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Goose66

    Of course she's not going to comment. She's going to see how the vote in Congress shakes out, then see what comes from the subsequent strike, and then retroactively pick a position so that she can claim she was right all along. I mean, she's a politician, right?

    September 3, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. cjb

    The world is much more dangerous since she became SOS. It's time to send her off to pasture and fix the damage that she did. How arrogant that she compares herself to Nyad. News headline Hillary – it's not about you anymore.

    September 3, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Ari Fleischer argued Clinton should be speaking out about the crisis in Syria, where Obama administration officials say chemical weapons were used last month. "

    Ari Fleischer argued Clinton should be giving the RWNJs/Teatrolls soundbites to latch onto, deliberately misrepresent and then create bumper stickers with.

    FIFY. GFY Ari.

    September 3, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. loneyzj

    ST-I agree with you 100%. Journalism these days is not where it should be. Gone are the days of the real reporters. Everything now is driven by politics and agendas.
    The real question we should be asking is why are we involved with Syria in the first place. Please don't mention chemical weapons. People in Afica have been killing each other by the millions and our government does NOTHING. So then, why are we so interested in Syria? Next question is; Don't we have enough to do right here in the United States? Our economy is collapsing, we have more people out of work now than we have ever had and it is getting worse. Now, our president and congress want to spend billions more on attacking Syria. Absolutely insane!

    September 3, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Van Krunk

    It's political suicide, no matter which way it go's.

    September 3, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. srpuywa

    she's a private citizen – keep her nose out of it

    September 3, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |

    This whole fiasco over Syria illustrates the fact that the United States does not have a coherent foreign policy. Which brings up the question as to what did Hillary Clinton do for the four and a half years that she was Secretary of State?

    September 3, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Smeagel4T

    Why? Hillary hasn't said she's running for anything. If I was Hillary and I was asked, I'd simply respond that I was no longer in the information flow and it is the job of those in government who do have access to the information to decide. Christie should response likewise.

    I no longer watch any TV news because it is so flooded with pundits shooting their mouths off giving their opinions when they're not part of the information flow and nobody ever holds them accountable for their opinions. When's the last time some pundit was dumped from a TV station for having been proved wrong? Being a highly paid TV pundit, from whatever angle, is the best job in the world. You just shoot your mouth off and nobody holds you accountable for being wrong. They're a bunch of Monday morning armchair quarterbacks being paid for mindless chatter.

    September 3, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. badgolfer

    Why now? She didn't weigh in with Benghazi. Chemical Weapons and mass death? What does it matter?
    She's a civilian g-d willing will stay that way.

    September 3, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Nah... she doesn't want to put herseld on the record one way or another. When the dust settles, she can look at what the result was. If it was a net positive, she can say she would have concurred. If it was net negative, she can say she would have done things differently.

    September 3, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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