In a speech given at an event sponsored by the Department of the Interior on Monday, former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced her support of President Barack Obama’s plan for a limited military strike against Syria. Clinton stated that “… Assad regime’s inhuman use of weapons of mass destruction against innocent men, women, and children violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order. And therefore it demands a strong response from the international community led by the United States.” This support of military intervention supports Clinton’s previous actions. She was one of the first democrats to voice her support for military action against Iraq, giving her a moniker as a “defense Democrat”.
That being said, Clinton did make several statements which also seemed to support John Kerry’s “accidental” proposal that Syria hand over all of its chemical weapons to the international community; a proposal that was quickly backed by Russia and has now gained much traction in the international community. Clinton said that it would be an “important step” that Syria hand over all its chemical weapons, but that “…this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. And Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.” Clinton continued with this train of thought, stating that the only way this weapon-handing-over plan “only could take place in the context of a credible military threat to keep pressure on the Syrian government as well as those supporting Syria, like Russia.”
Ultimately, Clinton concluded that “Achieving a political solution that ends the conflict is in the interests of the United States.” Up until this moment, Clinton had been surprisingly silent concerning the topic of Syria and US intervention, and perhaps for good reason. Clinton still seems to be the top contender for the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. Taking a hard-line stance on this issue could potentially present an obstacle to her election. A recent CNN/ORC International poll shows that less than half of the American public support any sort of military intervention in Syria, despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe Assad did use chemical weapons against his own people. Clinton’s rhetoric in this speech shows how reluctant she is to adopting one solution or the other. While she does state support for President Obama’s plan, she also leaves the table open for a diplomatic solution.
Will this support for Obama’s plan ultimately hurt Clinton’s presidential bid? One can assume that her nomination is safe, but with much opposition to Obama’s plan of intervention in Syria and his overall low approval ratings, a Democratic bid for presidency in 2016 is looking to be a huge climb uphill. This rhetorical middle-ground that Clinton has sought in this speech probably gives her the best chance to come out on top in the end, considering she will be right no matter the outcome of the situation. (Heads she wins, tails you lose.)
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