Saturday, November 03, 2007

CLINTON Says Some G.I.'s in Iraq Would Remain

WASHINGTON, March 14 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.


The Times's Michael R. Gordon and Patrick Healy interviewed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday. Following are excerpts from that interview:
Audio Audio: Senator Clinton on Iraq (mp3)

Transcript of Interview With Senator Clinton (March 15, 2007)

If Elected ...


This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy matters.

In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of “bringing the troops home.”

She said in the interview that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops.

The United States’ security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into a failed state “that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,” she said. “It is right in the heart of the oil region,” she said. “It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel’s interests.”

“So it will be up to me to try to figure out how to protect those national security interests and continue to take our troops out of this urban warfare, which I think is a loser,” Mrs. Clinton added. She declined to estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she would draw on the advice of military officers.

Mrs. Clinton’s plans carry some political risk. Although she has been extremely critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war, some liberal Democrats are deeply suspicious of her intentions on Iraq, given that she voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having done so.

Senator Clinton’s proposal is also likely to stir up debate among military specialists. Some counterinsurgency experts say the plan is unrealistic because Iraqis are unlikely to provide useful tips about Al Qaeda if American troops end their efforts to protect Iraqi neighborhoods.

But a former Pentagon official argued that such an approach would minimize American casualties and thus make it easier politically to sustain a long-term military presence that might prevent the fighting from spreading throughout the region.

Mrs. Clinton has said she would vote for a proposed Democratic resolution on Iraq now being debated on the floor of the Senate, which sets a goal of withdrawing combat forces by March 31, 2008. Asked if her plan was consistent with the resolution, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers said it was, noting that the resolution also called for “a limited number” of troops to stay in Iraq to protect the American Embassy and other personnel, train and equip Iraqi forces, and conduct “targeted counterterrorism operations.”

(Senator Barack Obama, a rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected president, he might keep a small number of troops in Iraq.)

With many Democratic primary voters favoring a total withdrawal, Senator Clinton appears to be trying to balance her political interests with the need to retain some flexibility. Like other Democratic candidates, she has called for engaging Iran and Syria in talks and called on President Bush to reverse his troop buildup.

But while Mrs. Clinton has criticized Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcements as an escalation of war, she said in the interview, “We’re doing it, and it’s unlikely we can stop it.”

“I’m going to root for it if it has any chance of success,” she said of Mr. Bush’s plan, “but I think it’s more likely that the anti-American violence and sectarian violence just moves from place to place to place, like the old Whac a Mole. Clear some neighborhoods in Baghdad, then face Ramadi. Clear Ramadi, then maybe it’s back in Falluja.”

Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she believed the next president is likely to face an Iraq that is still plagued by sectarian fighting and occupied by a sizable number of American troops. The likely problems, she said, include continued political disagreements in Baghdad, die-hard Sunni insurgents, Al Qaeda operatives, Turkish anxiety over the Kurds and the effort to “prevent Iran from crossing the border and having too much influence inside of Iraq.”

“The choices that one would face are neither good nor unlimited,” she said. “And from the vantage point of where I sit now, I can tell you, in the absence of a very vigorous diplomatic effort on the political front and on the regional and international front, I think it is unlikely there will be a stable situation that will be inherited.”

On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly vowed to bring the war to a close if the fighting were still going on when she took office as president. “If we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as president, I will,” she has said.

In the interview, she suggested that it was likely that the fighting among the Iraqis would continue for some time. In broad terms, her strategy is to abandon the American military effort to stop the sectarian violence and to focus instead on trying to prevent the strife from spreading throughout the region by shrinking and rearranging American troop deployments within Iraq.

The idea of repositioning American forces to minimize American casualties, discourage Iranian, Syrian and Turkish intervention, and forestall the Kurds’ declaring independence is not a new one. It has been advocated by Dov S. Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon’s comptroller under former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Zakheim has estimated that no more than 75,000 troops would be required, compared to the approximately 160,000 troops the United States will have in Iraq when the additional brigades in Mr. Bush’s plan are deployed.

While Mrs. Clinton declined to estimate the size of a residual American troop presence, she indicated that troops might be based north of Baghdad and in western Anbar Province.

“It would be far fewer troops,” she said. “But what we can do is to almost take a line sort of north of — between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put our troops into that region, the ones that are going to remain for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis.”

Mrs. Clinton described a mission with serious constraints.

“We would not be doing patrols,” she added. “We would not be kicking in doors. We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the various Shiite and Sunni factions. I do not think that’s a smart or achievable mission for American forces.”

One question raised by counterinsurgency experts is whether the more limited military mission Mrs. Clinton is advocating would lead to a further escalation in the sectarian fighting, because it would shift the entire burden for protecting civilians to the nascent Iraqi Security Forces. A National Intelligence Estimate issued in January said those forces would be hard-pressed to take on significantly increased responsibilities in the next 12 to 18 months.

“Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq,” the estimate noted, referring to the American-led forces.

Mrs. Clinton said the intelligence estimate was based on a “faulty premise” because it did not take into account the sort of “phased redeployment” plan she was advocating. But she acknowledged that under her strategy American troops would remain virtual bystanders if Shiites and Sunnis killed each other in sectarian attacks. “That may be inevitable,” she said. “And it certainly may be the only way to concentrate the attention of the parties.”

Asked if Americans would endure having troops in Iraq who do nothing to stop sectarian attacks there, she replied: “Look, I think the American people are done with Iraq. I think they are at a point where, whether they thought it was a good idea or not, they have seen misjudgment and blunder after blunder, and their attitude is, What is this getting us? What is this doing for us?”

“No one wants to sit by and see mass killing,” she added. “It’s going on every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. If we had a different attitude going in there, if we had stopped the looting immediately, if we had asserted our authority — you can go down the lines, if, if, if — ”

Questions from class:

1. What is Hillary Clinton's position on troop deployment in Iraq?
2. Will this be a voting issue for the next election?
3. What should be our next step in Iraq?


Manpreet Kaur said...

Hillary’s position on the topic of troop’s deployment in Iraq, I can tell she wants to lessen the troops in Iraq. I can also tell that she has a balanced decision on this issue, because she would like to take out troops from Iraq, and keep a few their too. On paragraph seven on the article it states that, “2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having done so.” This shows that Hillary is balancing out her decision, by agreeing to take out a few soldiers and to still remain in Iraq. Our next step, in Iraq should be to slowly take out our soldiers from Iraq. Another step should be to try to balance out Iraq’s government. I have a question, “why does the issue of war have to come during voting time?

Anonymous said...

I don't think there will be a voting issue because in the srticle it states, "Senator Baraack Obama, rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected president, hie might keep a small number of troops in Iraq."This means that this issue will not be of that a concern in the voting issue.

Manpreet Kaur

M. Harmon said...

After reading this article, I'm still a little confused on Hillary Clintons position on troop deployment. It was pointed out in class that at one point she says she wants to bring the troops home, but at another point she says she'll do it if the war is still going on by 2009. I'm not really sure what would happen if she was elected based on what she has said. I still feel this will be a voting issue because I feel there are Americans with very strong opinions regarding the war, and every little detail from the candidates will decipher how they vote. My personal opinion is to just take the soldiers out now. I think there is no more purpose being there and whats done is done.

Courtney Wilson said...

I agree with Megan. In the article, Senator Clinton was shown to contradict herself. She stated in 2002 that force is necessary in Iraq but in the present, she wants to pull the troops out. Megan brings up a valid point when she says that there is no fallback plan. I think, personally that there should be a gradual troop deployment. By 2010, the troops should be out of Iraq. A 3-Month trial observation period should occur after the troops are out. If things turn out for the better, we leave Iraq but if problems erupt again we go back gradually until the problems cease.

Anonymous said...

With HIllary's previous and present remarks on our status in Iraq she has made her self look like a hypocrite. In 2002 she stated that it was more than necessary for our troops to enter Iraq but now she is singing a different tune as elections approach.Our next move should be to start deploying troops gradually as courtney said and give a chance to the Iraqi people to try to have some kind of reform on there own, instead of us trying to live there life for them.


Kristen fitz said...

I think Hillary wants to pull the troops out and bring them home but I think she realized that you cant just pull them out you need to fix thing let every thing comedown and then you can bring a group home at a time and maybe bring every one back and leave a few not many solders that want to be there.

Anta said...

Hilary's stance about troop deployment in Iraq is very unclear in this article. She wants to take out a large number of troops, but what will that really solve? There's still gonna b a lot of sectarian violence n instability in Iraq. She also said she wants complete deployment from Iraq if she's president in 2009, which is just hypocritical of her.
Personally i believe it will be a voting issue for the next election because it is a topic of great debate nowadays. Many soldiers are overseas and people hate the war for that reason. It also effects the economy and at the end there might be a draft which no one wants. Our next step in Iraq should be to keep the soldiers there and finish what we went there for. The war won't last forever so it would be pointless to leave now.

Vickie said...

I think any one of us could become a politician if we are going to take the same stances as Hillary Clinton. By giving so many different opinions on the war, first saying that we should immediately pull all of the troops out of Iraq and then saying we should keep our troops in Iraq, but not let get involved in Iraqi conflicts, she is basically stating that she has no opinion. The people we elect to run are country and represent us to the rest of the world should be chosen because they had innovative ideas and ways to better our country.
I agree with Megan that this is going to be a voting issue in the next election. We are always saying in class that the war in Iraq is not affecting our everyday lives, but eventually it will affect us. When it is time to pay back all of the money we owe to China and deal with the soldiers returning we need someone running our country that can deal with that. Hearing a politician’s stance on Iraq will also give you insight on their other beliefs. If a candidate says we should immediately pull out of Iraq, you may assume that they would want us to stay out of other foreign conflicts, and if they want us to stay in Iraq, they may also want us to expand our war to Iraq’s neighboring countries.
Even though it sounds like a good idea, to simply leave Iraq now and cut our losses, I don’t think that is a realistic plan. As terrible as Saddam Hussein’s regime was, at least they had a country with a functioning economy and civilized people. Iraq is now in a state of turmoil, and if we leave now we will only be allowing the start of a civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Could we morally leave a country in such disaster and if we think that some people in the Middle East hate us now imagine how many more will hate us if we leave Iraq with a civil war?

Durkhanai A. said...

I agree with Megan but still if they take them out all at once it is going to be a rapid change in the lifestyles, and it might not be a very smart thing to do. If Hillary want to take the troops out then she will have to do it step by step. Voting issue? i dont really think so because everybody thinks differently about this war. They will choose the person that they think will be best to run the country.

Anonymous said...

If Hilary Clinton were to take out the troops now, who would fight in the war? Wouldn't it be too dangerous ? I agree with everyone else on this issue. You have to finishw hat you started and the war's already started! Honestly, I wouldn't elect her as a President in 2008's election.

kemi ajirotutu said...

I agree with every one it’s not possible to pull out all the troops. I think elections next year will be hard because we want some one that has a plan of making peace and finding a solution on how to get our troops home. How do we know the president we choose next year is not going to make matters worse? Are the new canadates better than bush?

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with what M harmon said. Hillary Clinton says she wants to bring the troops home but on the other had, she says she will do it if the war is still going on until the year 2009. I think that this is defintely a voting issue because everyone has their own opinions about the war. The soldiers should be brought back home and we should leave iraq as it is because personally I feel that there is nothing to be done anymore.

-Simran k.


After reading this article in class , i do agree on the proposal that hilary clinton is trying to bring out ,but i feel thats going to cause controversy because not all troops are comng home & also they will leave a mess in iraq that they started. i think since its the the citizens safety they have the choice on choosing who they want in presidency. but also like what some of the bloggers said , clinton probably will cause damage that was never there by pulling the troops out. with the question that vickie ask , if we were to leave iraq in disaster what does that make the u.s look like?

Sorybel said...

When reading this article about Hillary, on my opinion it seems that shes in the middle. Like she agrees in a way and also disagrees.She wants keep troops and also keep the others in Iraq. It isnt fair for those who have to stay with all the issues and suffer.Then who would fight for Iraq? Then that will cause even more problems to media.Hillary is very confused and also very undecided on what she wants to take charge of. First she states one thing then changes it and by he r doing it it could cause voting issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what vickie mentioned about how the war is not affecting our everyday lifes but 1 day it will because theres so much going on in the world today where do we stand so many things are happening to many issues are rising. It would be a big change and big problem if Hilary was to start taking people out now and bringing them home because doing that is not doing a good deed because there going to be messed up in the head and they need alot of help and treatment and plus whos going to fight in the war like someone mentioned if they get tooken out.

*Kristal Atchison*

tobin v. said...

So far as many people said in their blogs Hillary Clinton seems to be always contradicting herself in this article. She is supporting the complete removal of our troops. Like Anta and Vickie said what purpose is it that men and women are constantly put in harms way and working towards ending the sectarian violence. Also Hillary seems to contradict herself in her criticism over Bush’s reinforces of troops. And she states that “We’re doing it and it is unlikely we can stop it”. I think this quote is important because it shows that Hillary doesn’t know what she wants to do. I think this will be a voting issue for next election because this is a major issue that is affecting our country today. I believe our next step should be to send out troops home slowly but leave some to end the violence.

John said...

I agree with Courtney and Tobin on how Hillary seems to be constantly contradicting herself. She wants to withdraw, then keep them in. Which is it? Though on many topics, most politicans seem to contradict themselves. Guliani spoke at a NRA event not too long ago, while Mayor of New York he was against the whole gun thing, and now he is making nice with them.
There is no doubt that this will be a voting issue during the election, people will consider it when they go out to vote. The thing is though, that the majority of the front runners agree on Iraq, so it wont turn into a deciding factor. Yes people are tired of the war, but from the looks of it no one in washington is going to end it anytime soon. As for what our next step should be I do not know. I do know that we should have gone in more prepared, and with a better plan. Supposedly there are people that are more knolwdgeable on the subject of war, but can we honestly trust them to get us out when they are the ones who helped put us in?