A Rift in Worldviews Is Exposed as Clinton Faults Obama on Policy

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from The New York Times,

For the 19 months since Hillary Rodham Clinton departed as President Obama’s secretary of state, she and Mr. Obama, and their staffs, have labored to preserve a veneer of unity over how they worked together and how they view the world.

On Sunday, the veneer shattered — the victim of Mrs. Clinton’s remarkably blunt interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The Atlantic, in which she criticized not just Mr. Obama’s refusal to aid the rebels in Syria, but his shorthand description of his entire foreign policy.

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the line that Mr. Obama has used with aides and reporters to describe his reluctance to inject the United States into messy foreign conflicts.

Mrs. Clinton said she assumed the line was more a “political message” for a war-weary American public than his worldview — an interpretation that makes her words even more stinging, since “Don’t do stupid stuff” was in fact the animating principle for the foreign-policy blueprint that Mr. Obama laid out in a speech at West Point in May.

That Mrs. Clinton is more hawkish than Mr. Obama is no surprise to anyone who watched a Democratic primary debate in 2008. Her policy differences with the president during his first term were well documented, though they were less about underlying strategy than tactics.

She favored supplying arms to moderate Syrian rebels, leaving behind a somewhat larger residual military force in Iraq and waiting longer before withdrawing American support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during the historic protests in Cairo.

What has changed is her readiness to raise those differences to the surface and put them in the context of a different worldview. Even her memoir “Hard Choices,” which she was promoting in her interview with Mr. Goldberg, soft-pedaled the gaps and painted a portrait of her and Mr. Obama in lock step in rebuilding America’s tattered image abroad.

Now, though, Mrs. Clinton is suggesting that she and the president hold different views on how best to project American power: His view is cautious, inward-looking, suffused with a sense of limits, while hers is muscular, optimistic, unabashedly old-fashioned.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” Mrs. Clinton said to Mr. Goldberg. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

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