Hillary Clinton Clarifies Russia-Nazi Comparison

  on March 05 2014 10:09 PM
Clinton Ukraine speech
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack of potential Democratic 2016 presidential contenders, speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida Feb. 26, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Gaston De Cardenas

Hillary Clinton is standing by her comparision Tuesday of Russia’s military movement in Ukraine to actions carried out by Nazi Germany in the 1930s, but she did not mention Adolf Hitler by name on Wednesday, Politico reports.

Clinton spoke at UCLA, a day after she reportedly referenced the Nazi leader during a discussion at a private event in California regarding Ukraine, where Moscow recently sent troops. The former secretary of state said:

“What I said yesterday is that the claims by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea, maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect Russian minorities, that is reminiscent of claims made back in the 1930s,” said Clinton, a possible 2016 Democratic presidential contender, during the Q&A session that followed her speech.

“When Germany was under the Nazis, they kept talking about how to protect the German minority in Poland, in Czechoslovakia.”

Clinton, before she talked about some of the history of Ukraine prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, continued:

“I just want everybody to have a little historical perspective. I’m not making comparisons, but I am recommending that we can perhaps learn from this tactic that has been used before.”

Meanwhile, Clinton had good things to say about the way Barack Obama's administration is handling the crisis. She also expressed hope that the situation would cool down and dissed Putin as a “tough guy with a thin skin.”

“I’ve had a lot of experience, well, not only with him, but people like that,” Clintoin said, as people in audience laughed. “I know that his political vision is of a Greater Russia. … He is squandering the potential of such a great nation, the nation of Russia and threatening instability and even the peace of Europe.”

Clinton’s record on Russia while serving in the State Department has been scrutinized lately, Politico pointed out. She was at the center of the Obama administration’s efforts to “reset” the U.S.-Russia relationship. On Wednesday, Clinton defended that approach.

“I was very clear-eyed about what I thought we could get done,” Clinton said. “‘Reset’ was a phrase, a word used to say, ‘OK, we’re not happy about [Russia’s war with] Georgia, we’re not happy about other efforts to re-Sovietize the border -- we’re going to deal with that -- but we want to get some other things done. And we did,” Clinton continued, alluding to sanctions on Iran in response to that country's nuclear program.

As for possible next steps in Ukraine, Clinton said that a “smart response” involving European nations, especially Germany, is necessary.

“I don’t know that it does any good to just up the rhetoric unless we make sure Europe is responding,” Clinton continued. 

Clinton also covered topics ranging from gay rights -- which enabled her to offer another swipe at Russia -- and the order presidential primaries should be held. “Well, that is the third rail of American politics,” Clinton said, when asked what she would reform about the nominating process. “… It’s really a grueling process, and we have this hybrid system that works for some people better than others, depending on your talents … I don’t know what a perfect system would look like.”

Touching upon her 2008 presidential bid, Clinton continued: “I lost in Iowa, people said ‘OK, it’s over.’ Then I win in New Hampshire, surprising a lot of people. Then I lose in South Carolina, then I win in Nevada, and, I mean, it’s a tough set of circumstances for whoever is willing to endure it. It’s hard to know what works better.”

 

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