Hillary Clinton plants herself firmly with White House on Iraq
June 13th, 2014
12:41 PM ET
6 years ago

Hillary Clinton plants herself firmly with White House on Iraq

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.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iraq
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Obama Mommy Pants Foreign Policy

    Obama: Feckless Empty Suit leader from behind

    Clinton: Feckless Empty Pants Suit that has no problem abandoning people to die.

    June 13, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    And Hillary's poll numbers continue to drop on her book tour!

    June 13, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Let the Iranians do it, if they are eager to do so.

    June 13, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Goodness. They're closing down threads faster than I can reply (I'll give this one a try):

    Hi there stranger. Glad I caught up with you ... Friday's aren't the same if I can't wish you a great weekend 😦

    June 13, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. it must be said

    Obama and Hillary Clinton have already cut a deal with the ISIS terrorists. They are helping them by standing down and in return Iraq will be renamed ObamaHusseinLand and Bagdhad will be renamed Hillarydhad.

    June 13, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    sonny chapman

    All those who disagree w/Obama's position on the Current Iraq situation aer welcome to hop on a plane, bring your own kids & grandkids & join the fight. Malaki will be more tahn happy to let you fight the Sunnis who have lost faith in him ever treaing them fairly. They'll give you your own AK-47
    -----------------------------------------------------
    My sentiments exactly, and don't forget your granny. Send your grannies too.
    Better that she die in Iraq with her grandkids than on one of Obama's Death Panels eh? Yes?

    June 13, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Tommy G

    It is called pandering to the far left loon Democrat Party with total disregard for the damage it will do to the world and our strategic interests should these terrorists take over Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile these same leftist loons are in here demanding we send help to go look in the jungle for some kidnapped women in Nigeria. (ZERO strategic interests involved)
    ---------------------–
    Nigeria is a major oil exporter and a member of OPEC.

    June 13, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. amarjeet

    As Syria and Iran are nearer to Russia in arms supplies and Iran sent forces across to Iraq to protects its Shia population, it could be a bigger game of politics in Middle East. It is better US reinforce for Israel and others in Middle east for a while before giving any support to Iraq.

    June 13, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. smith

    @Rudy-Your confused. I have never backed aiding the rebels by any means. I think the rebels are worse than Assad.

    June 13, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. JJR

    The middle east will remain hopelessly trapped in the middle ages with the muslim population.

    June 13, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Sniffit
    "It was never proven that any had actually existed, either."

    Indeed. And yet their representations were that they were certain and did have evidence.

    Show me the yellow cake.

    *crickets*
    ------------
    SHOW ME THE CAKE SHOW ME THE CAKE SHOW ME THE CAKE SHOW ME THE CAKE SHOW ME THE CAKE

    I knew they were lying from the very beginning. When Dubya gave that "Axis of Evil" SOTU address, he was giving us the heads up we were going to war In Iraq. You should have known then they were going to use any excuse to go to war. So when I heard the war drums a bangin', I knew they were wiling to tell us anything to prompt the war. Let's not forget they LIED when they said there were training camps in Iraq and that Saddam and Osama were linked. Remember?

    June 13, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    it must be said says:
    June 13, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm
    Obama and Hillary Clinton have already cut a deal with the ISIS terrorists. They are helping them by standing down and in return Iraq will be renamed ObamaHusseinLand and Bagdhad will be renamed Hillarydhad.

    And this is why education is needed! Do you people see how they just make stuff up? No wonder Rush and Hannity are their leaders.

    I'm reminded of an old TV commercial....
    A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

    June 13, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " No one's defending their votes. "

    Here's your buddy, Sniffit – "Do you mean the same votes cast based on trusting that Dubya, Cheney, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld not to be lying about something so important as whether Iraq had WMDs, even though it was proven later that they were? "

    That IS defending the vote of Kerry and Clinton.

    And my point is that, even if those 2 believed in the WMD's, is that a reason to launch an invasion, when inspectors could not find any. And we had jets constantly patrolling the skies of Iraq. We had Saddam under our thumb, but that was not enough. We had to have a full-scale invasion. The Senate Democrats COULD have stopped that invasion, if they had to guts to stand up against Bush. If Hillary couldn't stand up to, or see through, W's lies, how can we expect her to handle Putin?

    June 13, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Former Democrat

    The book pandering road show of Hilary – What Difference Does it Make – Clinton continues... and nobody cares.

    I would rather have Joe Biden or Harry Reid as President rather than Hillary

    June 13, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. ivan

    @ Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I fought for my counrty in Vietnam.

    By your name sounds like your not even from the US.
    So do you even have a right to speak on this matter.

    are you legal? Green card?

    June 13, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Gunderson

    Yes madam President.

    June 13, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Tommy G

    Rudy NYC
    Tommy G
    It is called pandering to the far left loon Democrat Party with total disregard for the damage it will do to the world and our strategic interests should these terrorists take over Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile these same leftist loons are in here demanding we send help to go look in the jungle for some kidnapped women in Nigeria. (ZERO strategic interests involved)
    -------–
    Nigeria is a major oil exporter and a member of OPEC.
    -–

    OK, so Obama has no problem sending troops when oil is involved. Iraq is a major oil exporter and a member of OPEC. Geee, and here I thought the lefties didn't support wars for oil.

    June 13, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Too many cooks in the kitchen , Hillary isn't president yet .
    She and Mitt Romney need to shut up and act like adults .

    June 13, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Mike

    Chris Cuomo did a good interview with John McCain this morning when McCain finally admitted that he was for the exchange of Taliban prisoners to bring home our POW Soldier , before he was against it. Nothing like self serving politics to change McCain's mind and turn our stomachs. After letting McCain rant about the surge and keeping US. Troops in Iraq to die . Cuomo ended the interview by asking McCain to do the right thing in Iraq and not just play election politics. Nice job Cuomo.

    June 13, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "Rudy NYC – " No one's defending their votes. "

    Here's your buddy, Sniffit – "Do you mean the same votes cast based on trusting that Dubya, Cheney, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld not to be lying about something so important as whether Iraq had WMDs, even though it was proven later that they were? "

    That IS defending the vote of Kerry and Clinton.

    And my point is that, even if those 2 believed in the WMD's,"

    "Defending" is a bad word to use here because it's ambiguous. I'd say I'm explaining their votes, but I still disagree with them AND disagreed with them at the time. When Rudy NYC said nobody is "defending" them, I think he meant more that nobody is really saying that they don't deserve to be held appropriately accountable for having voted for it. My point is simply that you have to take into consideration that what they believed at the time was based on what they were told, and they were told KNOWING lies.

    June 13, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    sonny chapman

    All those who disagree w/Obama's position on the Current Iraq situation aer welcome to hop on a plane, bring your own kids & grandkids & join the fight. Malaki will be more tahn happy to let you fight the Sunnis who have lost faith in him ever treaing them fairly. They'll give you your own AK-47
    -----------------–
    My sentiments exactly, and don't forget your granny. Send your grannies too.
    Better that she die in Iraq with her grandkids than on one of Obama's Death Panels eh? Yes?
    ------------------

    Well, OK. But, they're gonna have to drag me out from under my bed first. (Yeah, I know.) All this talk of another 9/11 you understand: it scare-ded me.

    June 13, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "The book pandering road show of Hilary – What Difference Does it Make – Clinton continues... and nobody cares."

    Really? It's been the single most talked about thing in the MSM all week and you're saying "nobody cares"? LOL. The bubble is an evidence free zone.

    June 13, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    @Obama Mommy Pants Foreign Policy
    Obama: Feckless Empty Suit leader from behind

    Clinton: Feckless Empty Pants Suit that has no problem abandoning people to die.
    --------–
    Oh yes it is Friday so conservatives say abandoning US folks is bad. Saturday it will be good again. Like to stay on schedule.

    June 13, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ivan

    @ Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I fought for my counrty in Vietnam.

    By your name sounds like your not even from the US.
    So do you even have a right to speak on this matter.

    are you legal? Green card?
    -----------------------------------------------------You must be new around here kiddo.

    June 13, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. ivan

    @ Sly
    You probably voted for Bill Clinton as well.

    Best president since Ike.

    Really. Considering that Eisenhower was the first president to go head first into the Vietnam conflicts.
    You still feel that way.

    Clinton knew about Osama bin Laden , Al-Qaeda and the boming of the USS. Cole and Clinton did nothing.

    June 13, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
1 2 3