Clinton's break with Obama on Syria - what's next?

Washington - Hillary Clinton's split with President Barack Obama over a foreign policy "organising principle" is not likely to be the last time differences emerge between the two.

How she handles those breaks could be among her biggest challenges to a successful run for president in 2016.

While Obama and Clinton share similar views in many areas, the former first lady's interview with The Atlantic offered her most significant break with her onetime campaign rival in 2008 when each sought the Democratic nomination. .

She said Obama's "failure" to back the rebels in Syria led to the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq. She appeared dismissive of Obama's approach to foreign policy, saying "'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organising principle".

Clinton will likely seek some separation from Obama if she runs for president — especially if Obama's approval ratings stay near 40%.

Here's a look at a few areas where Obama and Clinton's views will be closely watched as 2016 approaches.

Foreign policy:

How Obama handles a series of foreign crises — Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine and Syria — could directly influence a future Clinton campaign.

The president's decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq comes only two years after he campaigned for re-election on a record that included ending the Iraq war.

In her book "Hard Choices," Clinton wrote that she "came to deeply regret" her vote to authorise the war, a decision that Obama used as a foil in the 2008 campaign. Clinton has not yet commented publicly on Obama's latest moves in Iraq.

The book includes instances in which she and Obama shared divergent views. In Egypt, she wrote that she was concerned about the US being seen as pushing out a long-term partner in Hosni Mubarak without a clear picture of the region's future.

But Republicans say Clinton will be hard-pressed to draw such distinctions, since she was an integral member of his team as secretary of State.

"It's certainly hard to see how she doesn't own the foreign policy record of this administration," said GOP strategist Ralph Reed.


Clinton often talks about the challenges faced by many Americans who haven't benefited from the economic recovery. Obama has presided over steady job growth during the past six months but it remains to be seen whether Clinton could run on an economic comeback story.

In a July interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Clinton said the research of economist Thomas Piketty showed that income inequality is "threatening to democracy."

"Even during the Great Depression people in the streets believed that they could make it and they would be better off. Now the relative wealth is much higher, but the disparity makes people believe that they're stuck," said Clinton, who has pointed to her husband's economic record as a model. The Great Depression took place in the 1930s


Clinton has kept a close line with Obama on immigration — both on the need for a comprehensive overhaul and the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America across the US-Mexican border.

Clinton said last month she supported creating a refugee screening process for the children in their home countries to discourage the dangerous journeys to the U.S., an approach that is similar to a pilot program under consideration by the White House.

Obama is expected to announce executive actions to address immigration, which could include a plan to give work permits to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

Climate change:

Clinton told college students in March she hopes for a "mass movement" on climate change, signaling the issue could figure prominently in a campaign.

Obama plans to attend a United Nations summit on climate change next month and speak at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, where one session is entitled, "Confronting Climate Change is Good Economics".

Environmentalists are awaiting a decision by Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil in western Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline, and Obama has said he would allow it to be built only if it doesn't exacerbate carbon pollution.

Clinton has avoided directly commenting on the project, citing the ongoing review.

Bruwer 2014/08/16 09:47:42 AM
Maybe the media is just preparing America for Jeb Bush, you have to keep it in the family
Chase Cameron 2014/08/16 09:49:22 AM
Hillary wants to run for President in 2016. In order to do so, she needs to distance herself from Obama who has been held to ransom by a hateful, spiteful Congress of Republicans and Teabaggers. In 2016 all the racists will become sexists overnight, they only know how to hate.
Hauke Liefferink 2014/08/16 09:53:55 AM
How would backing the rebels help with the situation in Iraq? Where do they invent this stuff?
Rob 2014/08/16 10:07:53 AM
Hillary is to old
Nico Booyse 2014/08/16 10:28:42 AM
Clinton's foreign policy record is just as bad as Obama's. Lets press the reset button with Russia our friend while she and Obama and the rest of the Democratic party laughs when Romney says Russia is still a big threat. Peace through strength!!! With Obama America is perceived as weak, and with Clinton it will be the same.
Hennie Steyn 2014/08/16 10:42:35 AM
I Say again - this women can never be trusted! She had to 'duck and Dive' sniper bullets in Afganistan! Snipers normally reach out and touch - NEVER MISSES!
September Mphikeleli 2014/08/16 10:43:34 AM
Obama is butcher supporting israel
Riaz Kajee 2014/08/16 11:10:15 AM
I dont think its possible to be American president if you dont first bow down to the zionist lobbies like AIPAC.Many people say Israel is the 51st state but I argue that the contrary is true.America is the colony of Israel.
Bobbie Booyse 2014/08/16 11:30:36 AM
Shameless opportunism ..that's all.
Riaz Kajee 2014/08/16 11:38:17 AM
Its boggles the mind as to why America has such blind loyalty to Israel.What do they stand to gain? The only conclusion is that Israel has hijacked US politics what else?