Iraq Exposes Rift between Hillary Clinton, Obama

Image: Iraq Exposes Rift between Hillary Clinton, Obama Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Landov)

Monday, 11 Aug 2014 10:32 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The rise of ISIS in Iraq and the emerging humanitarian crisis in the region has prompted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak out, blaming President Barack Obama's foreign policy strategy for ISIS's ascent.

In an interview published Sunday with The Atlantic's national correspondent, Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton said Obama's refusal to "build up a credible fighting force" created the conditions for jihadists to achieve dominance in Iraq.

"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against [Syrian leader Bashar] 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.

The comments signal an attempt to distance herself from Obama in advance of a widely anticipated 2016 presidential bid.

Clinton also criticized Obama's broader approach to foreign policy, saying, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

The interview was Clinton's first major criticism of the president's foreign policy since she stepped down from the administration last year.

A source close to Clinton told Business Insider that her comments were related more to the thoughts she set out in her new book, "Hard Choices," and that she was "merely commenting on world events."

But according to Politico, a source familiar with the interview said Clinton's staff gave the White House a heads-up that it had taken place.

Meanwhile, hostility toward a Clinton run appears to be building from the president's quarters.

Veteran journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Ed Klein, whose latest book, "Blood Feud," focuses on the rift between the Obamas and the Clintons, has said that Obama authorized senior adviser Valerie Jarrett to have secret meetings with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The aim, he said, is to encourage Warren to mount a challenge to a Clinton 2016 White House bid.

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