UK & World News

  • 7 June 2014, 9:28

Clinton Distances Herself From Obama On Syria

Hillary Clinton writes in her new book that she favoured arming moderate Syrian rebels, but backed Barack Obama's decision to strike a deal with the Taliban to free America's last prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

In Hard Choices, the presumed White House candidate-in-waiting recounts her "debate" with President Obama on the Syria issue.

The former secretary of state writes in the memoir that she had favoured intervention, whileMr Obama - who has been accused by critics of adopting an overly passive foreign policy - opposed such action.

According to CBS News, which obtained an advance copy, she says: "I returned to Washington reasonably confident that if we decided to begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels, we could put in place effective coordination with our regional partners.

"The Presidents' (sic) inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels," she adds. "No one likes to lose a debate, including me.

"But this was the President's call and I respected his deliberations and decision."

The excerpts also revealed Mrs Clinton's view on the controversial release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, whose freedom was brokered in exchange for the release of five Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay.

"In every discussion about prisoners, we demanded the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured in 2009. There would not be any agreement about prisoners without the sergeant coming home," she wrote, according to the excerpts.

"I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war," she added.

But Mrs Clinton regrets a hawkish stance she adopted on another conflict - her vote for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 when she was a New York senator.

She has previously distanced herself from that motion, but she does so in the starkest terms yet in Hard Choices.

"(Many) Senators came to wish they had voted against the resolution," she writes. "I was one of them.

"As the war dragged on, with every letter I sent to a family in New York who had lost a son or daughter, a father or mother, my mistake become (sic) more painful.

"I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."

The vote came back to haunt herduring her failed 2008 run for the White House against Mr Obama, who opposed the war from the outset.

In her book, she recounts a secret meeting with Mr Obama just before the Democratic convention that year when the two bitter rivals met for clear-the-air talks.

She describes herself and the future president as being "like two teenagers on an awkward first date".

Hard Choices will be officially released next Tuesday, together with television network interviews and a nationwide book tour by its author.

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