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Clinton Flip-Flopped On Arming Syrian Opposition

- October 11, 2015

Initially Clinton Opposed Arming Syrian Rebels

Clinton, 2012: "You've Got To Ask Yourself, If We Arm, Who Are We Arming, And How Would We Get The Arms In There, And What Good Would Automatic Weapons Against Artillery And Tanks Do?" REP. CHARLIE DENT (PA-D): "At what point do we, along with our friends and allies, start materially supporting the Syrian people? And what impediments are there to arming the Syrian opposition? You know, the press releases and denunciations just don't seem adequate, given what's happening over there." CLINTON: "Well, with your permission, Congressman Dent, I will combine Congressman Jackson's question with yours and attempt to answer both. …And at this point it is not clear -- like we had, you know, in Libya the Libyan opposition commanded territory. They held Benghazi. They had a face, both the people who were doing the outreach diplomatically and the fighters. We could actually meet with them, we could eyeball them, we could ask them tough questions. Here, you know, when Zawahiri of al-Qaida comes out and supports the Syrian opposition, you've got to ask yourself, if we arm, who are we arming, and how would we get the arms in there, and what good would automatic weapons against artillery and tanks do?" (Hillary Clinton, State, Foreign Operations And Related Programs Subcommittee Of The Committee On Appropriations, U.S. House Of Representatives, Hearing, 2/29/12)

  • Clinton: "What Are We Going To Arm Them With And Against What? We're Not Going To Bring Tanks Over The Borders Of Turkey, Lebanon And Jordan." "But the Obama administration has thus far resisted requests by Arab countries and by U.S. lawmakers like Sen. John McCain to begin the full-scale armament of the Syrian dissidents. 'What are we going to arm them with and against what? We're not going to bring tanks over the borders of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan,' Clinton said." (Wyatt Andrews, "Clinton: Too Many Concerns Over Arming Syrians," CBS News, 2/27/12)

As Secretary, Clinton Said Arming Syrian Rebels Could Help Al Qaeda

CBS Headline: "Clinton: Arming Syrian Rebels Could Help Al Qaeda" (Wyatt Andrews, "Clinton: Arming Syrian Rebels Could Help Al Qaeda," CBS News, 2/27/12)

As Secretary, Clinton Expressed A Concern That Arming The Syrian Rebels Could Lead To Weapons Going To Al Qaeda. “Another administration concern is that weapons might go to al Qaeda. ‘We know al Qaeda [leader Ayman al-] Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria?’ Clinton said. ‘If you’re a military planner or if you’re a secretary of state and you’re trying to figure out do you have the elements of an opposition that is actually viable, that we don’t see. We see immense human suffering that is heartbreaking.’” (Wyatt Andrews, “Clinton: Arming Syrian Rebels Could Help Al Qaeda,” CBS News, 2/27/12)

  • Clinton: “We Know Al Qaeda [Leader Ayman Al-] Zawahiri Is Supporting The Opposition In Syria. Are We Supporting Al Qaeda In Syria? Hamas Is Now Supporting The Opposition. Are We Supporting Hamas In Syria.” “Another administration concern is that weapons might go to al Qaeda. ‘We know al Qaeda [leader Ayman al-] Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria?’ Clinton said. ‘If you’re a military planner or if you’re a secretary of state and you’re trying to figure out do you have the elements of an opposition that is actually viable, that we don’t see. We see immense human suffering that is heartbreaking.’” (Wyatt Andrews, “Clinton: Arming Syrian Rebels Could Help Al Qaeda,” CBS News, 2/27/12)

Then Clinton "Didn't Push Hard On Arming The Rebels"

"At The Time Of The Obama Administration's Internal Debate Over That Decision, Several Officials Said, Mrs. Clinton's Advocacy Was Far Less Thunderous…" "At the time of the Obama administration's internal debate over that decision, several officials said, Mrs. Clinton's advocacy was far less thunderous: the United States had tried every diplomatic channel with Syria, she said, and nothing else had worked, so why not try funneling weapons to the moderate rebels." (Mark Landler, "Attacking Obama Policy, Hillary Clinton Exposes Different Worldviews," The New York Times , 8/11/14)

  • Clinton's Advocacy Was More Akin To: Diplomacy Hasn't Worked, "So Why Not Try Funneling Weapons To The Moderate Rebels." "At the time of the Obama administration's internal debate over that decision, several officials said, Mrs. Clinton's advocacy was far less thunderous: the United States had tried every diplomatic channel with Syria, she said, and nothing else had worked, so why not try funneling weapons to the moderate rebels." (Mark Landler, "Attacking Obama Policy, Hillary Clinton Exposes Different Worldviews," The New York Times , 8/11/14)

"A Former Obama Administration Official Who Attended White House Meetings On Syria Said Mrs. Clinton Didn't Push Hard On Arming The Rebels." (Peter Nicholas, Adam Entous, and Carol E. Lee, "Hillary Clinton's Legacy At State Dept.: A Hawk With Clipped Wings," The Wall Street Journal, 5/30/14)

  • "Wary Of Becoming Entangled In The Syria Crisis, The White House Pushed Back, And Mrs. Clinton Backed Off" On Plans To Arm The Rebels. "The plan that Mr. Petraeus developed and Mrs. Clinton supported called for vetting rebels and establishing and arming a group of fighters with the assistance of some neighboring states. …Wary of becoming entangled in the Syria crisis, the White House pushed back, and Mrs. Clinton backed off." (Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, "Backstage Glimpses Of Clinton As Dogged Diplomat, Win Or Lose," The New York Times , 2/2/13)

What Clinton Advocated "Would Not Be A Big Operation By The United States But It Would Show Whose Side We Were On." CLINTON: "I worked with General Petraeus then at the CIA, Secretary Panetta, then at DOD. And we made a presentation about how we thought that kind of vetting and training and equipment -- equipping could go and it would not be a big operation by the United States, but it would show whose side we were on and it would begin, I hoped, to tip the balance." (Hillary Clinton, CNN Townhall With Hillary Clinton, 6/17/14)

Clinton, 2014: If It Was So Self-Evident, It Would Have Been Done By Now

Clinton On Arming Syrian Rebels, June 2014:"If It Was So Self-Evident That Everybody Should Have Done This, We Wouldn't Be Sitting Here Talking About What We Didn't Do, But We Might Be Talking About The Consequences Of What We Did Do." AMANPOUR: "Go back again and, you know, arm and train?" CLINTON: "Well, I said we should have done it, you know, two plus years ago. But I want to be very clear, these are difficult, hard choices if it was so self-evident that everybody should have done this, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about what we didn't do, but we might be talking about the consequences of what we did do." (Hillary Clinton, CNN Town Hall, 6/17/14)


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