WATCH: Clinton Defends Regime Change, 'Wouldn't It Have Been Good to Assassinate Hitler?'

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Credit: RealClearPolitics

MSNBC transcript:

MATTHEWS: What do you think, quickly, of the whole history of the United States in your lifetime of knocking off leaders, whether it's Mosaddegh in Iran or it was Arbenz in Guatemala, or knocking off Allende in Chile, or knocking off Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, or knocking off Trujillo, or who else have I missed?

I mean, we've been doing this for a long time, that's why I'm skeptical. But what is your view of all those assassinations, all of the attempts to change the history of other countries? Should we be doing that kind of thing?

CLINTON: Well, I don't think...

MATTHEWS: Knocking off leaders.

CLINTON: In the vast...

MATTHEWS: Diem, we knocked him off.

CLINTON: In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. But, you know, there's always these historical games you can play. If somebody could have assassinated Hitler before he took over Germany, would that have been a good thing or not?

You cannot paint with a broad brush. Individual situations, and most of the ones you named, are ones that I think in retrospect did not have a very defensible kind of calculation behind them.

But I think it's a mistake to say you can't ever prevent war, you can't ever save people. You know, if there had been a way to go after the leaders of the massacres in Rwanda, to stop that before 800,000 people were killed, what would we have done?

We do, as you know very well, target terrorists. We target them because we believe that they are plotting and planning against us, our friends, and our allies.

Now they may not be a head of state, but they are very well the head of a terrorist group. So these are tough, hard choices. That's why I wrote a whole book called "Hard Choices" about some of this.

MATTHEWS: It looks like you're ready for the role of commander-in-chief already, anyway.