I quoted from Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with Hillary Clinton last week in “Willful blindness, Egypt edition.” Here Goldberg focuses on the Obama administration’s treatment of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, murderous thug and terrorist host:
QUESTION: Talk about – the one thing I didn’t understand was this Bashar al-Asad moment when you talked about him as being a reformer or being seen by others as a reformer. This is where the question of – and I’m not – I’m saying this in a value-neutral way. There is always going to be plasticity or strategic hypocrisy in the way you have to deal with the world. But shouldn’t we be blowing some of these winds of change in the direction of Damascus and Tehran as well? I – and –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we don’t –
QUESTION: Talk about Bashar and –
SECRETARY CLINTON: We don’t have to blow. The winds are blowing. There’s no stopping them. And what we have tried to do with him is to give him an alternative vision of himself and Syria’s future. So when a number of the members of Congress who have gone over to Syria come back and say both publicly and privately, “We think he really wants to reform, but he’s trying to put together the political pieces to be able to do that,” I think it’s worth reminding him of that. And since I’m not going to be on a phone conversation with him, and I’m not going to fly to Damascus, I think that’s one way of communicating with him. He’s got to make the decisions, and thus far, it doesn’t look like it’s heading in the right direction. But there was certainly a lot of hope that he would begin to introduce the kinds of reforms that would help Syria get ahead of the curve.
In the annals of fatuity compiled by the Obama administration — of which there is more in the same interview — “what we have tried to do with [Assad] is to give him an alternative vision of himself and Syria’s future” is some kind of classic. The Wall Street Journal quotes the statement in “Saving President Assad,” an editorial that briefly supplies some of the necessary factual context, as does Barry Rubin in “Great moments in American diplomacy.” I want to note Clinton’s statement for the record.