A robust effort to figure out what’s going on

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October 16, 2016 by AK

The Wall Street Journal reported on October 7:

The organization WikiLeaks on Friday [Oct. 7] released what it claimed to be Clinton campaign email correspondence revealing excerpts from paid speeches that Hillary Clinton gave in recent years, before her presidential bid.

As I understand, it was a collection of “flags” from HRC’s paid-for speeches before select audiences, compiled by a company working for her campaign. They cover the period after her resignation in February 2013 until March 2015.

It seems to me that Clinton’s position on Russia was pretty conciliatory and generally sensible in 2013, exemplified by this quote:

…we would very much like to have a positive relationship with Russia and we would like to see Putin be less defensive toward a relationship with the United States so that we could work together on some issues.

This was probably no longer possible after the events of 2014 in Ukraine, but nothing in HRC’s pre-Crimea views seems to suggest that she would embark on some insane military adventure against Russia.

On Russian advice to Assad, she said this in June 2013:

The Russian’s view of this is very different. I mean, who conceives Syria as the same way he sees Chechnya? You know, you have to support toughness and absolute merciless reactions in order to drive the opposition down to be strangled, and you can’t give an inch to them and you have to be willing to do what Assad basically has been willing to do.

This sounds plausible, and so does her assessment of the situation in Syria in 2013. She even admitted that the Saudis had been sending arms into Syria and that the Saudi regime was not one of the “stablest” in the world. At that time, HRC did not favor large-scale military intervention. Covert action was possible, she said in October 2013:

Some of us thought, perhaps, we could, with a more robust, covert action trying to vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels that would at least have the firepower to be able to protect themselves against both Assad and the Al-Qaeda related jihadist groups that have, unfortunately, been attracted to Syria.

I’m not sure if that has been tried. These bits from June and October 2013 suggest no, not really:

…my view was we should try to find some of the groups that were there that we thought we could build relationships with and develop some covert connections that might then at least give us some insight into what is going on inside Syria.

…I was among the President’s advisors who favored a more robust, covert effort to try to figure out who, if anybody, we could know more about and possibly partner with, but for all kinds of reasons that didn’t come to pass.

That didn’t work out in 2013, but the question been answered since?


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