Hillary blames Obama for rise of ISIL

In an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Hillary Cliinton made some uncharacteristically harsh comments about President Obama's foreign policy.

President Obama has long-ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups—like the one rampaging across Syria and Iraq today—from seizing control of the rebellion. In an interview in February, the president told me that “when you have a professional army ... fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict—the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”

Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the "failure" that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

As she writes in her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, she was an inside-the-administration advocate of doing more to help the Syrian rebellion. Now, her supporters argue, her position has been vindicated by recent events.

Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway.

Clinton also made fun of Obama's foreign policy philosophy: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

Exactly. Obama's attempt at profundity falls flat because "Don't do stupid stuff" invites taking half measures or doing nothing. The president's errors are not of commission but of ommission. He didn't do enough to help the Syrian rebels. He is doing little to support the Ukraine government against the Russians. He is delivering pinprick attacks to ISIL in Iraq.

Too little. Too late. That will be the coda to Obama's presidency.