Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton has firmly planted herself with the White House and those who say the United States should not provide military assistance – particularly airstrikes – to the Iraqi government in response to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other militants.
In both lengthy remarks at a George Washington University book event and an interview with the BBC on Friday, Clinton blasted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the current state of Iraq that, she argued, allowed radical Islamist militants to surge through the country and threaten the capital Baghdad.
Clinton characterized the Maliki government as "dysfunctional, unrepresentative, authoritarian" in front of an audience of 1,500 in Washington. For that reason, she added – to sustained applause – that "there's no reason on earth that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that."
"We certainly don't want to fight," Clinton added.
The jihadist group, known as ISIS, wants to establish an Islamic caliphate, or state, in the region. It has already had significant success to date in Syria, where it has fought against President Bashar al-Assad's government as well as other rebel groups in a bloody civil war, and in Iraq, where its fighters recently took over Mosul, the nation's second-largest city.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told CNN on Thursday that the army had "collapsed, basically" around Mosul, causing commanders to flee and the city to fall into the jihadists' control.
Clinton, whose support of the 2002 Iraq War Resolution has hung with her for more than a decade, said that the fact that army abandoned its posts was evidence that the United States should not consider airstrikes "at this time."
"You don't have a government that can inspire loyalty even among its army," she said. "It's a recipe for a horrendous conflict."
Although Clinton focused much of her attention on Maliki in describing the current state of Iraq and the reasons against military action, the Iraqi leader only gets one mention in Clinton's memoir "Hard Choices."
On Friday, President Barack Obama stressed again that he "will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," but told reporters that he is asking his national security teams to come up with other options.
The president said, however, that it was up to Iraq's leaders "to make hard decisions" on the future of their country.
U.S. officials have discussed bolstering ongoing efforts to send arms, equipment and intelligence information to help Iraq and its military. Airstrikes are among the options being considered, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Earlier on Friday, the BBC released a 20-minute interview with Clinton, where the former secretary of state said airstrikes in Iraq were not appropriate "at this time."
"That is not a role for the United States," Clinton said. "There needs to be a number of steps that Maliki and his government must take to demonstrate that he is committed to an inclusive Iraq – something he has not done up to date."
Clinton also said that the Iraqi Army – "which has not been able to hold territory" – needs "an injection of discipline and professionalism" before any help could be considered.
Clinton ruled out troops on the ground during her interview with the BBC, saying that is "not going to happen... at any foreseeable future." The former secretary of state, however, would "never say never" to troops on the group because "the world is so unpredictable."
Clinton's history with support for the Iraq War has defined much of her political career and her 2002 vote to give then-President George W. Bush the authority to go into Iraq was "probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make."
During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Obama – who was against the war – used Clinton's support as a bludgeon to hammer her campaign with liberal Democrats.
In her recent memoir Clinton writes that she "should have stated my regret" on Iraq "sooner and in the plainest, most direct language possible."
"When I voted to authorize force in 2002, I said that it was 'probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make,'" she writes. "I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."
- CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.