March 19th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton: 'We will not protect' Iraqis without political progress

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Clinton marked the 5 year anniversary of Iraq Wednesday."]CHARLESTON, West Virginia (CNN) - On the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, Hillary Clinton re-emphasized her plan to withdraw U.S. forces from the country and said “we won’t protect” the Iraqis if the their government fails to make meaningful political progress.

The New York senator was asked by an audience member here, on her first campaign stop in West Virginia, about her strategy to end the war.

Clinton explained that her three-part plan begins with finding the best way, in consultation with top military advisers, to withdraw American troops in 60 days. Iraq’s future, she said, should be up to Iraq’s political leaders.

“The Iraqis have not done what they had to do to secure their own future,” she said. “And I have said I don’t believe our men and women should stay there to fight their civil war.”

“So we will start bringing them home and we will tell Iraqis the ball is in their court,” she continued. “Now, we will help them, we will support them, but we will not protect them if they refuse to do what we want them to do.”

Clinton said that she is “of course” worried that Iraq could disintegrate if U.S. forces withdraw, but stated: “If the Iraqis are not ready to take responsibility for themselves, it’s not going to make a difference.”

A strong diplomatic effort in the region is also required to bolster Iraqi security, she told the audience.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Dan, PA

    At least she has a plan – a strong one. Versus, I'll withdraw them nope wait, maybe we need to wait, nope.....too much hesitation and crowd pleasing Obama is really annoying.

    Watch how he would copy this and tweak it to make it look like his idea. Stop copying Hilary and Edwards.

    March 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. CariAnn

    So let me understand:

    we go to Iraq and oust a government without being asked and under false pretenses,

    we occupy that country for five years resulting in (at latest count) 90,000 CIVILIAN casualties alone,

    and then we demand that the Iraqis get their s**t together and govern over a civil war and shattered economy we helped promote by bombing the hell out of them and destroying their infrastructure in the first place, saying "...we will not protect them if they refuse to do what we want them to do.”

    Sounds like four more years of the same thinking to me, or am I missing something? Good God help us all.

    March 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Ian, Maryland

    So she thought our men and women should have gone in there 5 years ago, but she doesn't think they should stay in. What a liar. She doesn't do anything without taking a poll to see how it will play.

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Ric

    go Hillary! you are best suited to lead. no giving up, take this fight to the convention floor. we will never vote for obama. never!

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. OBAMA 08


    There will be no political progress for another 5 years.Can't say she didn't warn you.

    March 19, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Independent

    Clinton did not follow through on promises she made when running for senator (she has many excuses for not doing so)- but why should anyone believe that she won't follow through on her campaign promises this time around.

    March 19, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. John from Virginia

    I am a 27 year veteran, who served in both Iraq wars.
    Nice try. Yes she would. She has to know what the outcome will be if we withdraw irresponsibly. We would only have to return to fix an even bigger mess, or pay a bigger price at the hands of terrorism that would thrive in that region.
    I pray that the Iraq people get on their feet soon and effectively take charge, before an American politician tosses in the towel.

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Matt

    Good thing that she will not be president and be able to enact this stupidity. "Do as I say or I will let people kill you????" What a brilliant plan from a potential leader of the free world. Wasn't it her vote that helped allow the Iraqi government to be overthrown?

    God I wish you would just drop out already and go into hiding with all the stolen money you got for your idiot husbands library and leave America alone.

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Jeanine G

    What HILLARY failed to realize, as did her partner at the time of the war vote, Bush, didn't realize, was that you can't force freedom on a people if they don't want it or aren't ready for it.

    This area of the world has been imperialially occupied by the most powerful nations on earth from the Romans to the British and French, and still, they have yet to make a decision as to their own governing that includes freedom for all. What in the world did Hillary think was going to happen when she voted for war?

    Oh yeah...we would be greeted with flowers and "$50 billion later", (make that $450 Billion now) we would have a middle-eastern Mini-Me to hold up?

    Sorry, but if this is the decision we get after her 3 am wake up call then she needs to go back to bed.

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Linda

    I'd say Iraq needs to pay for the US services that we have provided them.

    March 19, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. KLS79

    Hillary is backed by far more military personnel than Obama. She is far more ready to be commander-in-chief. I don't think we can afford the learning curve or lapses in judgment Obama has shown throughout this campaign. It's just too important.

    March 19, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Michael

    I hate Hillary Clinton and the weak minded sheepole who support her.

    March 19, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Veronica

    Clinton should bow out gracefully and attend to the missing sink in the kitchen...

    March 19, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. jp/michigan

    After 5 years and how many billions of dollars, loss in this war that no ones know where it went, it is time to get out. We need to concentrate on the USA . We need new jobs. We need to be able to pay our gas bills. We need to be able to feed our children. We need to regroup our armed forces, in case of another attach or disaster. It is time to take care or the American people and let the rest of the world take charge of themselves.

    March 19, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. William Myers

    "...but we will not protect them if they refuse to do what we want them to do.”

    This sort of statement always reminds me of the playground ultimatum; if we don't play the game my way, I'm going to take my ball and go home. But Iraq isn't the neighborhood playground and the stakes are much higher than the outcome of a game of kickball.

    The United States chose, for better or worse, to take action to liberate a nation and protect others from the dangers we believed the former leadership presented. We have a responsibility, however distasteful or unpopular it has become, to see this action through to its finish. We need to cultivate strong, educated leadership in Iraq and as much as we might not want to hear it, that may take a generation. We also need to help their government in the interim by showing the Iraqi people what it means to make their choices in leadership: have confidence that those leaders will make the right choices for the nation and to hold them accountable if they do not.

    It disappoints me when I see members of my community holding signs and shouting for support at intersections to 'stop the war' and 'bring the troops home.' As I mentioned above, it is too early for this action... but it is also too late by more than five years. Like the Iraqi people, we need to make educated choices in our leadership so we can be confident that they will make the right decisions. We need to hold them accountable when they do not and ensure that our political system protects us from future unwise decisions.

    March 19, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. kent

    You are nobly proposing to clean up the mess you voted to create. It is a nice way to devastate another people. First, without provocation from them, invade their invade their country, topple their leader and have him executed, take sides to enusure a civil war, then go about murdering its people under the pretence of helping them. Now tell the American backed government that"th e ball is in their court" and now they must "do what we want them to do", "make meaningful policitical progress", "secure their own future", fight their civil war" and "take responsibilty for themselves."
    This sounds like an aborted attempt to promote American interests abroad (take over where ever and when ever it suits America )under the guise of promotion of democracy and freedom.
    This sounds like a war you voted for and authorized in the first place and yet you have the arrogance to blame it on the Iraqi people. Shame on you Hilary Clinton. Shame on you.
    It is no wonder prophetic voices speak out against American policy and action toward other nations.

    March 19, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. kelly WI

    An agreement or signed piece of paper isn't going to stop the bad guys from killing the good guys.

    March 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. Robin

    Before Ohio primary Mrs. Clinton attacked Sen. Obama and accused him on that, taking advantage of the false report by Canadian media just before March 4th. Now everyone knows it was Sen. Clinton campaign that called Canadians and told them not to take their anti-NAFTA approach seriously. I wonder why nobody in the media asks Mrs. Clinton about this. Media has been sharp on Mr. Obama, which is a positve thing. However, media is soft and softer on Mrs. Clinton. Is it because she complained about the media? Did it make the media afraid of foucsing on hard issues?

    March 19, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  19. CHERYL





    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  20. Veronica

    Well, as the Right and the Hillary supporters will tell you...

    "Hope and change are over-rated. Experience at giving you more of the same is what really matters!"

    March 19, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  21. Mariann Pepitone

    Why is this country worried about Iraq whether Iraq can take care of itsel of not if we pull the troops. We should not have been in their that long to begin with and Bush should have pulled the troops out 2 years ago. Now we are in there 5 years and the troops are still dying. Bush should not have invaded Iraq in the first place. He was not after Bin Laden he was after Saddam. It cost us over 4,000 lives for his and Cheney's lies that Saddam had weapons. Saddam was not coming here, did not have any weapons and Bush used that as an excuse to go after Saddam. It is a shame that the people of this country voted him in office twice. Once should have been enough. We certainly don't need another mistake made.

    March 19, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Experience?

    I'm just flat out worried about our foriegn policy...........

    March 19, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. La Bomb ba

    Sounds Good Looks like it will work either way with or without Iraqi progress. However, we should go back to the UN since it really even though we all call it George Bush's War it is a UN thing when it started. Decisions about Iraq future is both Iraqi and UN concern not just USA

    March 19, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. Slept in Church for 20 years


    Stay in the fight until the bitter end, Hillary. It's your right.

    March 19, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  25. Ratgurl

    Though I'm NOT a Clinton supporter, I applaud her for FINALLY saying what a majority of this country has been thinking for a LOOOONG time.

    Now if she ran her campaign like this, sticking to the issues, she might have kept some of that support she so deperately needs right now.

    March 19, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
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