Obama's Syrian airstrikes get Bill Clinton's approval

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Story highlights

  • The former president says he supports the Obama administration's actions in Syria
  • Clinton has not always been as supportive of the administration's policy regarding Syria
  • Hillary Clinton, too, was supportive of Obama's decision on Wednesday
Former President Bill Clinton told CNN he agrees with President Barack Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes against the terrorist group ISIS and arm Syrian rebels working to defeat them.
During a panel hosted by CNN's Erin Burnett at the Clinton Global Initiative on Wednesday, the former president unequivocally said, "I support what they (the Obama administration) are doing."
"I personally believe the way they have thought this through and planned it and limited our involvement, avoids ISIS achieving their objective of suckering us into their fight," Clinton said of the airstrikes. "We should give support for people who are fighting for their lives."
On arming Syrian rebels, the former president said the administration has "reached the judgment that it is... worth the gamble, I think, to try to make it work."
Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have not always been as supportive of the Obama administration's policy regarding Syria.
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As America's top diplomat, Hillary Clinton urged the president to arm Syrian rebels and made clear that she disagreed with Obama's decision not to arm them in her much-talked-about memoir. Earlier this week, Bill Clinton echoed his wife.
"I agree with her, and I would have taken the chance," the former president told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
But on Wednesday, the former president was supportive of Obama's new position on Syria.
"Any time you do anything, it might not work. We don't have 100 percent control," Clinton said. "You just make a judgment over whether it is more likely than not to work. The President has made that judgment to arm the Syrians who want an inclusive Syria."
"The situation now is demanding a response and we are seeing a very robust response," Hillary Clinton said during a panel with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "It is something that I think the president is right to bring the world attention to and say."
The United States and a coalition of member countries conducted their second day of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq overnight on Tuesday.
While the strikes, which were authorized by Obama last week, are targeting ISIS members in both countries, they are not limited to the terrorist group that has risen to prominence in the last year.
Also targeted were members of the Khorasan group, a new terrorist organization that the United States government says is a collection of al Qaeda members who have moved into Syria.
Bill Clinton told Burnett that although the group is made up of core al Qaeda members, the United States is not fighting the same terrorists they fought after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"Some of them survived," Clinton said. "Nobody said we had a 100 percent kill rate on that."
Bill Clinton's full interview with Burnett aired Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.