April 17th, 2008
03:18 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton: President, not generals, will be in charge in Iraq

Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.
Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.

HAVERFORD, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Hillary Clinton declared Thursday she will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 60 days of becoming president, regardless of what her military advisers say about the situation on the ground at the time.

"You can see which way the questions are going," she firmly told a mostly female audience gathered at Haverford College, a small liberal arts school outside of Philadelphia. "What if the military commanders tell you its dangerous to withdraw? That question is backwards. The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

Clinton has faced a slew of hypothetical questions from reporters about withdrawing from Iraq after she said last week that her rival Barack Obama cannot be trusted to end the war.

In making that case to voters and the press, the Clinton campaign has cited an interview with a former Obama foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, who told the BBC in March that the Illinois senator's pledge to withdraw all combat troops in 16 months was "a best case scenario."

At the Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night, Clinton was asked if she would bring the troops home "no matter what," even if that meant destabilizing the country.

Clinton said yes, promising to do so responsibly and with a strong diplomatic effort in the region.

"Our professional military are the best in the world," she said. "They give their best advice. And then they execute the policies of the president."

– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pennsylvania
soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    This is dumb. I hope Americans are smart enough to know you don't just cause havoc in a country and then leave it in a worse situation than you found it. Pulling out without considering what is happening on the ground is irresponsible. Give the order for the troops to pull out and set check points with generals to allow them to progressively pull out. Don't tell people something thats impossible to do because it sounds like what they want to hear.

    Obama or That Old guy 08

    April 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Sara from Arizona

    Always pointing that finger!!!!

    April 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. WendyOne

    Typical Hillary – Wouldn't want to listen to the military commanders – must be all that experience you have. How are you going to bring the troops back – one at a time on your broom?

    April 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. leah

    why bother? she's not going to get the nomination anyway!

    OBAMA '08

    April 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. No Obama Social state. ( Chicago voter)

    I don't want Snobama to be our president.
    He reminds me of Bush.
    He's cooky, errorgant without any substance backing him up.
    He can talk the prepared speech, but when he has to answer questions. He can't do that. all he said is "ah, ah, .. pause, ah,,ah"
    It was painful watching this man talk.
    OMFG, American people! wake up. this guy doesn't have brain or gut to lead this great country.
    I'd like modest person, like Hillary to be our president.
    She's smart and articulate. Her plan is really good.
    plus, her cut of the middle income is $250K, not $75K
    I make my hard earn money, I don't want it to go to people who don't work.
    Hillary is more moderate. I like her view a lot.
    Obama hasn't improved a thing in Chicago and IL where he started his political career. Why do you think he will improve anything if he ,god forbid, ever becomes president of USA?

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. B from C

    What Hillary should really be planning for is her withdrawal within the first few days after the Pennsylvania primary. She really doesn't need to plan for anything past that since she won't be the nominee.

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. brad, obamaha, NE

    "The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

    this was OBAMA's response last night at the debate.

    could someone please tell the monster that we have been watching, and we have decided to go with the REAL enforcer of CHANGE, and not the watered down, desperate one.

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Tired of W, OH

    Both Clinton and Obama committed to start withdrawing troops soon after taking office. Don't let your bias show, CNN.

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Tom

    Isn't that what Barack Obama said last night in his response to same question. The president sets the mission. HRC-get your own words

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Chris

    Interesting that Obama can't be trusted to end the war since he was opposed to it from the start. It would be more likely that someone who voted to authorize the war would be unwilling to end it, no matter what she might say to win an election.

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. deep_eye

    Ummmm, Hill?? Hon?? You'll need to be president to be able to do that – ok, sweetie?? Since you won't be, then you won't be – get it??

    Why does she keep doing this? It's like she thinks if she says it long enough, it will actually come true. She really is delusional, it's more scary than sad.........

    Also, she is LYING again (I know, big surprise). No one can get the troops out in 60 days – it's logistically impossible. Quite a few generals have speculated on this very topic and the best case scenario is at least 8 – 10 months. You don't just go running out of the country with your tail between your legs like a bunch of Marys – there are safety, security, planning, logistical issues that must happen first.

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. CHERYL FOR HILLARY

    GO HILLARY GO

    WE WILL TRY AGAIN IN 2012 OR 2016

    BARRY WON THIS TIME

    WE LOVE YOU

    April 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. tidho

    I guess since the 'he is not electable' argument is over all she has left is 'he cannot be trusted to end the war'. Interesting argument given that 60% of American's dnon't think that Hillary can be trusted period, lol.

    She is right about the military though. The President is responsible for the mission the military is responsible for defining tactics, communicating risk, then executing.

    The trouble comes with the communicating risk part. McCain will shred her on this because she basically said she wouldn't consider them. Major electability issue.

    April 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Indy for Obama

    O_O;;;

    Well. I read that title that Clinton was pledging to begin withdrawing from the contest within 60 days from now. THAT I might have believed.

    April 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. M Thomas

    ONE WORD BULL!!!!

    She is good at making false promises! Voters BEWARE!!!

    April 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Texan for Obama

    WHAT?! "...The president tells the military commanders what the mission is." Isnt this the point that Obama made last night in the debate?! Even the "got it backwards" part... I could've sworn I heard Obama say it.

    I guess Sen. Clinton is coming around....

    April 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. nick

    Go Clinton!
    We know you will honor your commitments.

    April 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. operasask

    Hillary has it right! The military follows orders from the commander in chief – it is their responsibility to plan how to make it safe.

    She is the only remaining candidate who seems to know what she is talking about on foreign policy issues.

    April 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. kc

    THAT IS DANGEROUS..SO DOWN.. YES, I WANT THE TROOPS HOME BUT IN A SAFE AND SMART WAY.. YOU HAVE TO, YES TAKE THE LEAD AS COMMANDER BUT DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE MILITARY PERSONNEL THAT HAS THE SPECIALITY IN THIS FIELD.

    April 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. tjoey

    HILARY WHY DON't YOU JUST QUIT. YOU ARE A WHITE WOMAN WITH over $100 MILLION IN THE BANK. WHY PERSUE SOMETHING THAT IS WAY OVER YOUR HEAD. YOU LIED SO MANY TIMES ALREADY, YOU TWIST THINGS and when you get caught you say you misspoke. IF OBAMA HAD DONE WHAT YOU DID YOU WOULD BE ALL OVER IS BACK AND SO WOULD THE MEDIA. YOU ARE THE WORST CANDIDATE EVERY. YOU RAN A NASTY, NASTY, CAMPAIGN. YOU SHOW NO SOLIDARITY TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. ARE YOU A REPBULICAN IN DISGUISE? ARE YOU ON THE TAKE? WHO IS PAYING YOU TO BE SO ARROGANT, AND BAD!!! IF THAT IS ANY TESTAMENT IN YOUR LEADERSHIP OF THIS COUNTRY WE ARE IN FOR A RUDE AWAKENING!! OBAMA DOESN'T NEED THE TROUBLE THAT THIS COUNTRY IS IN RIGHT NOW. CAN YOU REALLY GET THAT 3AM PHONE CALL AND HELP THIS COUNTRY or ARE YOU JUST POWER HUNGRY FOR MORE MILLIONS? WHERE IS THE LOVE HILL?

    April 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    CNN Please post this:

    Hillary Clinton should withdrawal today that would be great for all of us!

    April 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. Susan

    Ok let me get this straight. Now Hillary is pledging to withdraw from a war she supported. She calles the military the "best in the world" yet she and Bill gutted the military to the most disasterous levels since before WWII. Why do you think deployments and tours of duty are so long? Hillary your words means nothing. You will lie about anything if it means more votes. You are about as transparent as the Canadian whiskey you were chugging.

    No drama with Obama

    April 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. rezagui1@hotmail.com

    Wouldn't bringing back a 100 people satisfy her promise. Sounds like she is promising nothing. Obama gave an end date. That is a promise he can be held to.

    April 17, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Dori in AZ

    Why is it that every single time Hillary talks to us about anything, she's pointing her finger? I"m convinced that if Hillary is elected, she will do her best to destabilize OUR country.

    But, as to a withdrawal from Iraq (which I agree we need to do)... Many of us remember the fall of Saigon in 1975 and our disastrous exit. Obama would be more likely to listen to all appropriate and trusted advisers, and make sensible and well thought out decisions about the withdrawal and how it should be handled.

    Of course, Hillary has so much experience, I'm sure she knows better than any military person. After all, Hillary has ducked sniper fire and sniper-ed ducks!

    April 17, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. Chris from Fargo

    This is a hideous thing for any leader to commit to. Anybody who has studied war in any way should know that once a commander enters the field that the field commanders are in charge of that army. To do otherwise is undermine the authority of the military leadership.

    Yes, the president can define the scope of the mission, but it must be left to the military leadership to determine the appropriate means of executing it. That is why they are there. To completely ignore the advice of your advisors means that a) you placed people in advisory positions that should not be in advisory positions or b) you know better than they do. Hillary has no military record or education in military organization or tactics. Political, maybe (or even more than likely), but not military. And if 'a' is true, our military is in trouble regardless.

    I'm not in support of the war. I am in support of a pull out. But I am not in support of a reckless pullout as is being suggested here. There are ways to do this which work best for everybody and keep the dignity and authority of our military intact. What has been suggested here would be a hideous disaster for the morale of our military leadership.

    April 17, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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