February 25th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton: Americans know I'm ready on foreign policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/02/25/art.clintonpolicy.ap.jpg caption="Clinton delivered a speech on foreign policy Monday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a foreign policy address Monday at George Washington University, Sen. Hillary Clinton took on both Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, saying she knows best how to use diplomacy and military strength, and is "ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis."

"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security," said Clinton, referring to President Bush.

"We can't let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many."

A group of high-ranking former military and defense officials who support Clinton's candidacy joined her for the address.

"The American people don't have to guess whether I understand the issues, or whether I would need a foreign policy instruction manual to guide me through a crisis, or whether I'd have to rely on advisors to introduce me to global affairs," she said.

Focusing largely on her foreign policy vision of strengthening international relationships while protecting U.S. security, Clinton cited her Democratic rival and her potential Republican rival by name only toward the end of the speech.

She called McCain a friend who is "to be commended for his service" in the Vietnam War. "But in terms of foreign and security policy, in the calamitous wake of President Bush, Senator McCain can't seem to budge from the Bush approach that insists on using military force when diplomacy is needed."

Obama, Clinton said, "wavers from seeming to believe that mediation and meetings without preconditions can solve some of the world's most intractable problems to advocating rash unilateral military action without cooperation from our allies in the most sensitive region of the world."

The remark was a reference to Obama's positions on meeting with dictators and military action in Pakistan.

Obama has said he would guarantee in advance to meet during his first year in office with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without preconditions. Clinton argues that dictators often use presidential-level meetings for propaganda purposes, and said she would not agree to a meeting at that level until preconditions were established.

"It may sound good, but it doesn't meet the real world test of foreign policy," she said Monday of Obama's position.

Obama has also said he would take unilateral military action against sites inside Pakistan if he had "actionable intelligence" on al Qaeda positions in the country that the Pakistani military was not moving against.

Clinton has said that while the United States may need to take action in Pakistan, announcing that to the world could destabilize an already troubled government that is fighting al Qaeda.

"One thing the American people can be sure of - I will not broadcast threats of unilateral military action against a country like Pakistan just to demonstrate that I'm tough enough for the job," she said Monday. "We have to change our tone and change our course."

Obama has long rejected such complaints from Clinton and others and cited his opposition to the Iraq war, insisting he has shown the "judgment" to lead.

But Clinton said Monday, "We need a president who knows how to deploy both the olive branch and the arrows, who will be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis, who will pursue strategic demands of hard diplomacy to re-establish our moral authority and our leadership. In this moment of peril and promise we need a president who is tested and ready."

- CNN's Josh Levs

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. John

    Of course Hillary is ready to flip flop at the drop of a foriegn flag.
    Your foriegn policy has been a carbon copy of Bushes. Iraq war, Republican guard Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan. When are you going to show some leadership in this area???????????//

    February 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Dave. San Diego, CA

    Here she goes again. She likes to take credit for the "good" things under her husbands administration but doesn't want to take credit for the negative things. Doesn't anyone remember how her husband GUTTED the armed services while he was president? Yet we expect her do anything differently? She says "in balance, NAFTA was good for New York and America", yet she now tries to say that she didn't think it was good for either one? Which is it Hillary? Either it was good or it wasn't. This woman will do or say anything to get elected, but she has absolutely zero shot in the general.

    As my Republican mother would say, shut your screeching hole and crawl back under the rock you came out from underneath.

    February 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Jenny

    Uhm, I know you're NOT ready.

    February 25, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Christian, Tampa FL

    Hillary's approach to foreign policy is the same old Washington attitude that America is some kind of city on a hill or shining New Jerusalem that is somehow so far above everyone else that an offer of direct negotiations is some kind of reward. It is not; negotiations are a tool in our arsenal but not a piece of candy to be handed out to friends.

    We need a new approach to foreign policy, and Obama articulates that approach very well.

    February 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. James Smith

    By the way, 27 Flag Officers endorse her as the Democratic nominee based not in a small way on her foreign policy. That is significant.

    February 25, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. voter in sc

    Hillary is ready and capable to be President!!! People need to wake up and stop following the Obama cult!! I know for sure that Obama is not ready and my vote will be going to McCain if Obama is the democratic nominee.

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. TR

    You are competent and strong. Get your boxing gloves on! Show them!

    February 25, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. mk

    so, everyone needs to read the article just above this one.
    And...how in the Heck did Hillary get so much foriegn policy experience?? Once again people...SHE IS NOT THE INCUMBENT,
    she USED TO BE the first lady. Thats it!!!!

    I wish she would give us some credit. We are NOT stupid.

    February 25, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. KMAN

    Right on Hillary ... we do KNOW! And that's one of many reasons why you won't ever get my vote! You voted if 'good faith" to give Bush the authority to go into Iraq ... good call, huh?

    February 25, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Gavin

    Absolutely 100% confident with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton being our President...
    MY GOODNESS – IT'S A NO BRAINER– for everything this country has been exposed to–thanks to george bush–WE NEED RESILIENCE, EXPERIENCE, AND STRENGHT RIGHT NOW!

    My family and I are supporting Senator Clinton all the way to the White House!!!

    Keep up Hillary !!!

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Disgusted

    As a Canadian,with an American mother, I would say if Clinton is president, Dobbs may get those security fences built real fast on your northern borders and we would build them. We have had a fill of Bush's "get even diplomacyy."Although we have had men dying in Afghanistan since "day one" we have never been forgiven for not backing him on Iraq. From her tirade on Sat.,I suspect we will be treated the same if God forbid, we disagreed with her on anythng. This woman's behavior does not engender respect and her tantrum certainly did nothing to make me feel she is fit to run a country or deal with us foreigners.PS. As one who lives with universal health care,her program is gonna cost you a bundle.She hasn't explained how those private clinics will get their profit if not from you.More disgusted

    February 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |