Former President Bill Clinton said President Barack Obama should do more to support the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Politico
Clinton appeared at an event closed to the press on Tuesday with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain recently visited Syria to meet with opposition forces and has urged Obama to take action to aid the rebels now that Assad appears to have gained the upper hand again in the war.
Clinton said America elects presidents and members of Congress to lead, and that following opinion polls in such important matters can lead to a president looking like "a total fool." A recent Gallup poll
showed most Americans don't want the United States to intervene in the Syrian conflict.
"Some people say, 'OK, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!' I think that’s a big mistake. I agree with you about this," Clinton said to McCain during a question-and-answer period. The event, held for the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Manhattan was closed to the press, but Politico said it obtained recorded portions of the event from an attendee.
"Nobody is asking for American soldiers in Syria," said Clinton. "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?"
Often, opinion polls are not saying not to take a certain action, Clinton said, but rather are the American people's way of urging caution. "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.'"
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