Hillary Clinton on War & Peace

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


Supported decision to target Osama bin Laden

In our interview, she emphasizes her "personal friendship" with Obama, with whom she had developed a kind of bond of pragmatism and respect--one based on shared goals, both political and strategic. "I feel comfortable raising issues with him," she says. "I had a very positive set of interactions, even when I disagreed, which obviously occurred, because obviously I have my own opinions, my own views."

The killing of bin Laden, she says, was a bonding experience. Obama's Cabinet had been split on whether to attempt the mission, but Clinton backed it and sweated out the decision with the commander-in-chief. "I've seen the president in a lot of intense and difficult settings," she says, "and I've watched him make hard decisions. Obviously, talking to you on September 11 as we are, the bin Laden decision-making process is certainly at the forefront of my mind."

Source: New York Magazine interview, "Hillary in Midair" , Sep 22, 2013

Obama rejected her 2012 plan to arm the Syrian rebels

Although Hillary Clinton hasn't weighed in on possible military intervention in the days since the latest chemical attack in Syria, she discussed the conflict in Syria in January, when asked what it would take for "America to intervene."

Clinton answered that while she thinks "we have been very actively involved," there needed to be a "credible opposition coalition," saying, "You cannot even attempt a political solution if you don't have a recognized force to counter the Assad regime."

"I think I've done what was possible to do over the last two years in trying to create or help stand up an opposition that was credible and could be an interlocutor in any kind of political negotiation," Clinton said.

In February it was revealed that the president rebuffed a plan last summer by Clinton, the CIA Director & Defense Secretary to arm the Syrian rebels.

Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria" , Aug 31, 2013

OpEd: Iraq war follows tradition of active US leadership

Most of the prominent Democrats in Congress, including Senator Hillary Clinton, decided to support the 2002 Iraq resolution, casting votes that they would all find themselves obligated to justify for years afterwards.

For the Democratic foreign policy elite, the Iraq War was a disaster both politically and for the ideas they had come to hold. The war reopened old divisions between the Democratic Party's leaders and the party's base. At the grass roots, since Vietnam, liberals had been instinctively skeptical about the use of force. By contrast, many of the party's foreign policy hands, particularly the alumni of the Clinton administration, had a different outlook. They viewed themselves as heirs to the foreign policy traditions of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy, all proponents of national strength and an active leadership role for the US. The Clinton administration had put its imprint on the general idea of regime change in Iraq, though not by American military invasion.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 47 , Jun 14, 2012

Clinton-Gates combo won push for Afghan surge

Just as the Obama administration was beginning to hold meetings to decide [whether to send a troop surge to] Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal's report leaked out.

Robert Gates gradually came around to supporting the McChrystal request, and Hillary Clinton did, too. During that period, the two often sided with each other in administration debates; they were happy to show that the secretaries of state and defense could work smoothly together, unlike their immediate predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld with Colin Powell & Condi Rice. The Clinton-Gates combine helped to win over the president to sending more troops, despite the skepticism of other senior administration officials such as Biden; the president was not prepared to override the recommendations of the two departments primarily responsible for foreign affairs. Obama approved the deployment of 30,000 more American troops for Afghanistan, bringing the total to about 100,000, and also called on NATO allies to provide another 5,000 or more of their own.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.134-136 , Jun 14, 2012

OpEd: 2003 Iraq vote unmistakably authorized war

Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Harry Reid would later claim that they were not voting to authorize war but only to continue diplomacy. They must not have read the resolution. Its language was unmistakable: "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the US as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the US against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.240-241 , Nov 9, 2010

War authorization vote made primary harder than general

Bill Clinton knew his wife could do it, and do it damn well, too. Some felt that she had the nomination locked up but would face a daunting challenge in the general election. Bill believed the opposite--a point he made repeatedly to anyone who would listen. "This primary is gonna be harder than the general," he would say.

Clinton's assessment was based primarily on one thing: the anger of the party's liberal base at Hillary's vote to authorize the Iraq War and her continued refusal to recant it. With elections in Iraq scheduled for that December, the body count rising, and sectarian violence raging in the region, calls were intensifying for a troop reduction or even a full-scale withdrawal. On Nov. 13, Edwards, whom the Clintons considered Hillary's most serious rival for the nomination, published an op-ed in "The Washington Post" apologizing for his own Senate vote in favor of authorizing the war. (It's first sentence: "I was wrong.") The pressure was mounting on Hillary to do the same.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 39 , Jan 11, 2010

2007: Avoided war apology to avoid "flip-flopper" label

Hillary had no intention of saying she was sorry [for her Iraq war vote]. "I don't have anything to apologize for," she thought. "You want me to apologize for the fact that the president is an idiot?"

Hillary liked to say that she was blessed (or cursed) with a "responsibility gene." It was why, as a NY senator in the wake of 9/11, she had voted to authorize the war in the first place--and why she was resistant to pushing for a date certain for withdrawal now. If she reversed herself now, she would be buying a one-way ticket to Kerryville: the GOP would tattoo her forehead with the lethal "flip-flopper" label.

The Iraq dilemma was a pure Hobson's choice. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn't--so she adopted her husband's method & split the difference. Hillary claimed that she wasn't voting for war in 2002 but instead for more diplomacy. Now she decided to add her name to legislation that urged the president to begin a "phased redeployment" of the troops by the end of 2006.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 45 , Jan 11, 2010

Massive retaliation from US if Iran attacks Israel

Q: Iran continues to pursue a nuclear option that poses a threat to Israel. Should it be US policy to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the US?

OBAMA: I will take no options off the table. It is very important that Iran understands that an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, and the US would take appropriate action.

CLINTON: I think that we should be looking to create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel. Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the US, but I would do the same with other countries in the region. We are at a very dangerous point with Iran. The Bush policy has failed. Iran has not been deterred. #1, we’ve got to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran. #2, we’ve got to deter other countries from feeling that they have to acquire nuclear weapons. And finally, we cannot permit Iran to become a nuclear weapons power.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008

Calling for troop withdrawal pressures Iraqi government

Q: You started calling for pulling US troops out of Iraq in November of 2005. If we had followed your policy, wouldn’t Al Qaeda by now be able to say that they had driven the US out of Iraq?

A: The so-called surge was designed to give the Iraqi government the space and time to make the tough decisions that only the Iraqis can make for themselves. It’s my assessment that only now is the Iraqi government starting to grapple with problems that many of us have been pushing them to resolve for 5 years. And the problem is that they have up until now believed that they didn’t really have to take any tough action, that President Bush had given them basically a blank check, that the American military would be there to protect them and protect other parts of the country. I think we’ve got to bring our troops home and really require and put the pressure on the Iraqis to make the tough decisions that they have to make.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Feb 3, 2008

Some tactical success in Iraq, but no strategic success yet

Q: Last September when General Petraeus testified before Congress about the surge working, and you said, “The reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.” Since then, the violence is clearly dropping. Baghdad is sharing oil revenue with the provinces. They are allowing some Sunnis back into the government. Clearly, there are a lot of problems, but why are you so determined to declare defeat?

A: Well, that’s not at all what I’m doing. I think there’s a difference between tactical success on the ground, and strategic success. And I think you’re overstating what is happening in Iraq. There’s a lot of problems getting money from the central government into the Sunni areas. The oil bill hasn’t been resolved yet. De-Baathification is tied up in their Parliament because there is such a reaction to it by many of the Shiite factions. You know, this is, obviously, a fractious and often contentious government.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Feb 3, 2008

Would have never diverted attention from Afghanistan

It’s clear that if I had been president, we would have never diverted our attention from Afghanistan. When I went to Afghanistan the first time and was met by a young soldier from New York, in the 10th Mountain Division who told me that I was welcomed to the forgotten front lines in the war against terror, that just struck me so forcefully. We have so many problems that we are going to have to untangle. It will take a tremendous amount of effort. What are we going to do going forward? Because day after day, what I spend my time working on is trying to help pick up the pieces for families and for injured soldiers trying to make sure that they get the help that they need, trying to give the resources that are required. We had to fight to get body armor. Bush sent people to war without body armor. We need a president who will be sensitive to the implications of the use of force and understand that force should be a last resort, not a first resort.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

After 9/11:Those helping terrorists would feel “wrath” of US

In early Oct. 2002, the Senate prepared to vote on a resolution that would give the president the authority to use military force in Iraq if diplomatic efforts failed. For Hillary, it amounted to the most important vote of her public life.

Coming to a decision involved a knotty set of calculations. Hillary had put down, as she put it, a “pretty pugnacious” marker the day after Sept. 11 by saying that those helping terrorists would face the “wrath” of the US. Retreating from that muscular stance would be tricky. On the other hand, if she voted yes, she would be giving Bush the authority to launch a pre-emptive war--a concept that reminded her of the failed war in Vietnam.

Voting against the resolution would also mean retreating from the policies of another president--her husband. Bill has signed a law in 1998 that contained non-binding provisions calling for regime change. Finally, there was Hillary’s concern that she could never win the presidency if she didn’t prove that she was tough enough.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.240-241 , Jun 8, 2007

1960s conversion to liberalism based on opposing Vietnam

By 1968, there were far fewer bitter debates among students about the war’s merits, particularly following the Tet Offensive. The nightly news was filled with images of the Vietcong and North Vietnamese inflicting casualties against American troops in the heart of Saigon, and journalists were now explaining the war in increasingly worrisome ways. By then, Hillary was no longer trying to reconcile conflicted feelings about the war, or the leftward drift of her own politics. She was already beginning to call herself a “former Goldwater Girl,” demonstrating her newfound political beliefs most dramatically by supporting the anti-war campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy in his bid to displace President Johnson as the Democratic nominee. Along with a few classmates, Hillary traveled to New Hampshire on weekends to stuff envelopes and campaign on Senator McCarthy’s behalf.
Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 30 , Jun 8, 2007

At Wellesley in ‘68, steered anti-war movement within system

During Hillary’s freshman year, she eased into the leadership of the Wellesley Young Republicans club, and by the end of the second semester, was elected president. Meanwhile, she had begun questioning her party’s policies on civil rights and the war.

At a time when her contemporaries were challenging the authority of college administrators, she steered the antiwar movement at Wellesley away from the kind of confrontation that convulsed other campuses.

Still, Hillary and her class were responsible for greater changes at Wellesley than any in its history. Black Studies was added to the curriculum. A summer Upward Bound program for inner-city children was initiated, antiwar activities were conducted in college facilities, the skirt rule had been rescinded, grades were given on a pass-fail basis, and interdisciplinary majors were permitted. One of Hillary’s strengths as a leader, still evident, was her willingness to participate in the drudgery of government rather than simply direct policy.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p. 43-45 , Jun 5, 2007

I have seen firsthand terrorists’ terrible damage

I have lived with the aftermath of 9/11. And I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda. And I believe we are safer than we were. We are not yet safe enough, and I have proposed over the last year a number of policies that I think we should be following.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Supports border security fence in Israel

Hillary worked closely with Jewish leaders to oppose the International Court of Justice passing judgment on the legality of Israel’s security fence. Clinton released a statement supporting the fence as a “legitimate response” to terrorist attacks.

In 2004 Hillary stated that a suicide bombing in Jerusalem “shows the day-to-day danger that Israelis face and that has caused the Israeli government to decide that it must build a fence to protect its people.”

Source: Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, by Amanda Carpenter, p.128 , Oct 11, 2006

Ok to target Al Qaeda in Pakistan; we did that 10 years ago

OBAMA: [to CLINTON]: I stand by my statement that I would go into western Pakistan if we had actionable intelligence to go after al Qaeda, whether or not the Pakistani government agreed.

CLINTON: We did take action similar to what has been described about 10 years ago, based on what was thought to be actionable intelligence, sending in missiles to try to target bin Laden and his top leadership who were thought to be at a certain meeting place. They were not taken out at the time. So we have to be very conscious of all the consequences. I think it’s imperative that any actionable intelligence that would lead to a strike inside Pakistan’s territory be given the most careful consideration. And at some point--probably when the missiles have been launched--the Pakistani government has to know they’re on the way. Because one of the problems is the inherent paranoia about India in the region in Pakistan, so that we’ve got to have a plan to try to make sure we don’t ignite some kind of reaction.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate , Jan 6, 2006

2002 Iraq speech criticized both Saddam and U.N.

[On the 2002 Iraq war vote], she managed to sound vehemently anti Saddam without sounding pro Bush. In a floor speech on the measure to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Hillary managed quite a juggling act. She criticized the United Nations for puttin limits on inspection sites. She warned of Saddam Hussein’s ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. she concluded that going to war against Iraq ‘on the present facts is not a good option’ but voted to enable George W. Bush to lead the nation into war.
Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 48-49 , Feb 25, 2004

Cut off US aid if Palestine declares a state unilaterally

Q: In recent weeks, scores of people have been killed in the Middle East. In view of what’s happened, do you think there should be a Palestinian state now?

CLINTON: Only as part of a comprehensive peace agreement. That’s always been my position, that [it should] guarantee Israel’s safety and security and the parties should agree at the negotiating table. A unilateral declaration is absolutely unacceptable and it would mean the end of any US aid.

LAZIO: That’s a change of heart for Mrs. Clinton, because back in 1998 you called for a Palestinian state. You undercut the Israeli negotiating position. The people of New York want to have somebody who has a consistent record. For eight years I have been consistent and strong in my support for the security of the state of Israel. Without equivocation. Without a question mark next to my name.

CLINTON: There is no question mark next to me. There’s an exclamation point. I am an emphatic, unwavering supporter of Israel’s safety and security.

Source: NY Senate debate on NBC , Oct 28, 2000

Focuses on increasing relationship between US and Israel

LAZIO [to Hillary]: It’s very hard to accept a claim of consistency [on Israel] when you called for a Palestinian state with full military powers. It’s difficult to accept that you are a consistent supporter when you stand on the sidelines while Suha Arafat issues a blood libel suggesting that Israelis have been orchestrating an attack on Palestinian women and children with poison. It’s hard for us to imagine you’ve been a consistent supporter when you refused to support the law which says that we should move our embassy to Jerusalem, not next year, but right now. For eight years I’ve wanted the embassy to be placed in Jerusalem. CLINTON: My positions for more than 20 years have been to do everything I could to support Israel and to increase the relationships between the US and Israel. I’ve worked on everything from the National Council of Jewish Women’s program to bring a preschool instruction program for children of the US, to speaking out, time and time again, about violence and terrorism.
Source: (X-ref Lazio) NY Senate debate on NBC , Oct 28, 2000

Support Israel in finding a safe and secure peace

Hillary Clinton supports a move [of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem]. She spoke more generally yesterday about what she called her longstanding respect for the country and its people. “The United States has been and will be always there for Israel,” she said. “And we will always support the Israeli government and Israeli people as they struggle to find a safe and secure peace.”

She stayed away from more controversial topics, such as whether there should be an independent Palestinian state. Mrs. Clinton angered many Jewish voters last year with when she voiced support for such a state. But the animosity felt by some in the crowd toward Mrs. Clinton was evident on nearly every block, with some holding signs recalling her embrace last year of Yasir Arafat’s wife, Suha.

Source: Associated Press in NY Times , May 26, 2000

Extend peace treaties to Palestinians, Syrians & Lebanese

The message of Oslo [was]: How we can fulfill Rabin’s legacy by bidding farewell to generations of war and ushering in a new century of real and lasting peace? The same must be true on all of Israel’s borders so that the peace that now covers some will be a peace that extends to all-Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
Source: Remarks at Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center , Nov 11, 1999

Strategizing about Pakistan destabilizes a nuclear power

OBAMA: [to Clinton]: If we have actionable intelligence on al Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden, [within Pakistan], and Pres.Musharraf cannot act, then we should. I think that’s just common sense.

CLINTON: People running for president should not engage in hypotheticals. And it may well be that the strategy we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence--but remember, we’ve had some real difficult experiences with actionable intelligence--might lead to a certain action. But I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with al Qaeda and Taliban. And remember, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want is to have al Qaeda-like followers in charge of Pakistan and having access to nuclear weapons. So you can think big, but remember, you shouldn’t always say everything you think if you’re running for president, because it has consequences across the world.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

Hillary Clinton on Iran

Policy of prevention, not containment, on Iranian nukes

Q: Your predecessor, Henry Kissinger, said that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, that it is a turning point in history.

A: Our policy is prevention, not containment. And we have, through hard work with the international community, imposed the toughest set of sanctions on any country. We know it's having an effect. We have to continue to keep them isolated, and keep Russia and China on board. [But] we've said from the very beginning, we're open to diplomacy. We are doing so in the so-called P5-plus-1 format.

Q: What about military action against them?

A: Well, we've always said all options are on the table. The president has been very clear about that. [With regards to the] terrorism aspect of Iran's behavior, when I came into office, there were too many countries that were turning a blind eye to it. We have worked very hard to get the international community to say these guys need to be stopped on the terrorism front. They cannot be permitted to go forward.

Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" , Jan 29, 2013

Trust but verify Iran: goal is diplomacy & open inspections

Q: With sanctions on Iran, where are they getting the money to fund Hezbollah and Hamas?

A: Well, they are a rich country. They have economic strength that has been built up over many years. These sanctions are truly biting, but there are outlier countries that still try to evade the efforts. But there's more to come. We'll be issuing more sanctions. Ultimately, what we want to see is Iran come to the negotiating table and say they're going to have open inspections. They claim that they're not pursuing nuclear weapons.

Q: You don't believe that.

A: I'm from the trust-but-verify camp when it comes to Iran. You know, this is what they say. But we have a body of evidence that points in the other direction. If that is true, then why are they developing intercontinental ballistic missile capacity? Why are they adding centrifuges and more enriched uranium? They owe the international community an explanation as to what it they're doing if they claim they're not pursuing nuclear weapons.

Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" , Jan 29, 2013

Continue diplomatic engagement with Iran

Q: Do you agree with the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat? And do you agree that the NIE’s news shows that isolation and sanctions work?

A: I’m relieved that the intelligence community has reached this conclusion, but I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing’s changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. I have for two years advocated diplomatic engagement with Iran, and I think that’s what the president should do.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Believed, with others, that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapon

Q: Are the Revolutionary Guards proliferators of mass destruction?

A: Well, many of us believe that. Earlier this year, Senator Edwards told an audience in Israel that the nuclear threat from Iran was the greatest threat to our generation. Back in 2004, Senator Obama told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that he would even consider nukes to take out Iran’s nuclear capacity. So there was a very broadly based belief that they were pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Pledge that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb

Q: Would you pledge to the American people that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb while you are president?

A: I have pledged that I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Rushing to war with Iran vs. doing nothing is a false choice

Q: Why did you vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment which calls upon the president to structure our military forces in Iraq with regard to the capability of Iran?

A: I am against a rush to war. I was the first person on this stage and one of the very first in the Congress to go to the floor of the Senate back in February & say Bush had no authority to take any military action in Iran. Secondly, I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I’m also not in favor of doing nothing. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism. So some may want a false choice between rushing to war, which is the way the Republicans sound--it’s not even a question of whether, it’s a question of when and what weapons to use--and doing nothing. I prefer vigorous diplomacy. And I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy. We used them with respect to North Korea. We used them with respect to Libya.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard promotes terrorism

GRAVEL: [to Clinton]: This is Fantasyland--we’re talking about ending the war; my God, we’re just starting another war! There was a vote in the Senate today--Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it’s essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. I want to congratulate Biden & Dodd for voting against it, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You’re not going to get another shot at this--we invade and they’re looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote.

CLINTON: My understanding of the revolutionary guard in Iran is that it is promoting terrorism. It is manufacturing weapons that are used against our troops in Iraq. It is certainly the main agent of support for Hezbollah, Hamas and others, and in what we voted for today, we will have an opportunity to designate it as a terrorist organization, which gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the leaders.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Prevent Iran from becoming nuclear power by diplomacy first

Q: [to Clinton]: Would the Israelis be justified in taking military action if they felt their security was threatened by a nuclear presence in Iran?

CLINTON: I’m not going to answer that because it’s hypothetical. There would need to be a high standard of proof.

Q: Rudy Giuliani said, “Iran is not going to be allowed to build a nuclear power. If they get to a point where they’re going to become a nuclear power, we will prevent them; we will set them back 8 to 10 years. That is not said as a threat; that should be said as a promise.“ Would you make that promise?

CLINTON: I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from becoming an nuclear power, including the use of diplomacy, the use of economic sanctions, opening up direct talks. We haven’t even tried. That’s what is so discouraging about this. We need a concerted, comprehensive strategy to deal with Iran. We haven’t had it. We need it. And I will provide it.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Rule out nukes against Iran

Q: You criticized Sen. Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Al Qaida in Pakistan, yet you said the same against Bush’s use of tactical nuclear weapons in Iran:
Clinton on videotape:
“I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. And this administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that’s a terrible mistake.”
Q: What’s the principal difference there?

CLINTON: I was asked specifically about the Bush-Cheney administration’s policy to drum up support for military action against Iran. Combine that with their continuing effort to try to get what are called bunker-buster bombs, nuclear bombs that could penetrate into the earth to go after deeply buried nuclear sites. This was not a hypothetical, this was a brushback against this administration which has been reckless and provocative.

OBAMA: There’s no difference [in our policies].

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Iran having a nuclear weapon is absolutely unacceptable

I am very concerned about Iran, and we should have been using diplomacy for a number of years now. I am pleased that Bush is starting to talk to the Iranians, but it is way overdue. We have allowed the Iranians to begin their nuclear program, to imprison Iranian Americans as they are now, to send weapons across their borders to be used against our young men and women, and we need a process of engagement. Bush’s policy has been, we don’t talk to people we don’t agree with or that we think are bad. All during the Cold War, we always talked to the Soviet Union. They had missiles pointed at us. They had leaders who said they would bury us. They waged wars around the world. We never stopped talking. In my administration, patient, careful diplomacy, th kind of diplomacy that really gets people to stay with it over time. Are you always going to get good results? No. But you’ve got to start the process. However, we still have to make it clear that Iran having a nuclear weapon is absolutely unacceptable.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Hillary Clinton on Iraq War

2007: I'm most qualified to end war in Iraq

[In 2007] Hillary had whipped Obama in the interminable series of Democratic debates that had taken place since April. Her mastery of the issues, her knowledge of every jot and tittle about every aspect of public policy, had been on full display--and Obama had been exposed for the naif she knew he was, coming across as vague and weak and windy. She had neutralized many of her most glaring vulnerabilities. She had blurred the distinctions between her and Obama on Iraq, adroitly changing the subject from which candidate was most anti-war to who was more qualified to bring the conflict to an end.

She's watched as Obama's campaign was hammered for producing a proposal that was an obvious rip-off of hers. She'd begun to defuse her rival's message, where she said, "change is just a word without the strength and experience to make it happen." And finally, in the 3rd quarter of the year, she had succeeded in raising more money than Obama.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 98-99 , Jan 11, 2010

2007: Opposed funding Iraq War; no escalation

In May 2007, the Senate voted on $100 billion for Iraq. For Clinton, the bill presented an excruciating choice. Should she bow to reality, support a bill certain to pass, and risk losing enough support among the Democratic base? Or should she stand firm against the president, and face Republican charges in the general election of turning her back on the troops?

Clinton's campaign advisers were unanimous--surprisingly so. All recommended a no vote. But a no vote would seem to violate her nearly 5-year effort to preserve her credentials as a future commander in chief.

In a statement, she said, "Tonight I voted against the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill because it fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq. I believe that the president should begin a phased redeployment of our troops out of Iraq and abandon this escalation."

Just 14 senators opposed the measure. She had moved dramatically to where she was in a minority within her Democratic caucus.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 80-81 , Aug 4, 2009

2002: Saddam gave aid to Al Qaeda terrorists

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002

"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."
--Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Nov. 17, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2003

"If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late."
--Sen. Joseph Biden, Sept. 4, 2002

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29 , Oct 1, 2008

Up to the Iraqis to decide the future they will have

I would begin that with a very clear message to the Iraqis that they no longer had a blank check, as they had been given by Bush, that as we withdraw our troops, probably one to two brigades a month, they would have to step up and make these decisions. I believe that is in the best interest of our military, which has been stretched thin. I do not think it is in the interest of America or of the Iraqis that we continue to be there. It is up to the Iraqis to decide the kind of future they will have.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

Leaving 130,000 troops in Iraq is irresponsible abdication

Bush intends to leave at least 130,000, if not more, troops in Iraq as he exits. It’s the most irresponsible abdication of what should be a presidential commitment to end what he started. So, we will inherit it. Therefore, I will do everything I can to get as many of our troops out as quickly as possible, taking into account all of these contingencies that we’re going to have to contend with once we are in charge and once we can get into the Pentagon to figure out what’s really there & what’s going on.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Have nearly all combat troops out in a year

Q: Can you make a commitment that 16 months after your inauguration will be enough time for all combat troops to get out of Iraq?

A: I certainly hope it will be. I hope to have nearly all of them out within a year.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Can’t leave Iraq safely without a plan

It’s not only bringing our young men and women and our equipment out, which is dangerous. They have got to go down those same roads where they have been subjected to bombing and so much loss of life and injury. We have to think about what we’re going to do with the more than 100,000 Americans civilians who are there, working for the embassy, working for businesses, working for charities. We’ve got to figure out what to do with the Iraqis who sided with us. A lot of the drivers and translators saved so many of your young men and women’s lives, and I don’t think we can walk out on them without having some plan as to how to take care of those who are targeted. At the same time, we have got to tell the Iraqi government there is no more time. They are out of time. They have got to make the tough decisions they have avoided making. They have got to take responsibility for their own country.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Can’t let the Iraqis think the US will be there forever

We have to send several messages at once. We are withdrawing, and I believe that is the best message to send to the Iraqis. That they need to know that they have to get serious, because so far they have been under the illusion that the Bush administratio and the Republicans who have more of the same will be there indefinitely. It’s important to send that message to the region, because Iran, Syria, the other countries in the neighborhood, are going to find themselves in a very difficult position as we withdraw. Be careful what you wish for. They will be dragged into what is sectarian divisiveness with many different factions among the 3 main groups. Therefore, we need to start diplomatic efforts immediately, getting the Iranians, the Syrians, and others to the table. It’s in their interest, our interest, and certainly in the Iraqis’ interest. Bush has taken the view that I find absolutely indefensible, that he doesn’t have to bring any agreement about permanent bases and ongoing occupation.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Voted against precedent of US subordinate to UN in Iraq

Q: Before the US invasion of Iraq, you could have voted for the Levin Amendment which required Bush to report to Congress about the UN inspection before taking military action. Why did you vote against that amendment?

A: Although I believe we needed to put inspectors in, that was the underlying reason why I at least voted to give Bush the authority, put those inspectors in, figure out what is there and what isn’t there. The way that amendment was drafted suggested that the US would subordinate whatever our judgment might be going forward to the UN Security Council. I don’t think that was a good precedent. Therefore, I voted against it. I did vote to limit the authority that was being given to Bush to one year, and that was not approved. I’ve said many times if I had known then what I know now, I never would have given Bush the authority. It was a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time and what I believed he would do with the authority he was given. He abused and misused that authority.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Iraq war authorization was not authority for preemption

I warned at the time the Iraq war authorization was not authority for a preemptive war. Nevertheless, he went ahead and waged one, which has led to the position we find ourselves in today. Now we have to look at how we go forward. There will be a great debate between us and the Republicans, because the Republicans are still committed to Bush’s policy, and some are more committed than others, with McCain’s recent comments. He’s now accusing me of surrendering because I believe we should withdraw startin within 60 days of my becoming president. Well, that is a debate I welcome, because the Democrats have a much better grasp of the reality of the situation that we are confronting. We have to continue to press that case. It will be important, however, that our nominee be able to present both a reasoned argument against continuing our presence in Iraq and the necessary credentials and gravitas for commander-in- chief. That has to cross that threshold in the mind of every American voter.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Told by the White House how the war resolution would be used

Q: Would you say that you were naive in trusting Bush?

A: No. When the Iraq war vote came to the Senate, we were confronting the reality of trying to deal with the consequences of Bush’s action. It is abundantly clear that the case that was outlined on behalf of going to the resolution--not going to war, but going to the resolution--was a credible case. I was told personally by the White House that they would use the resolution to put the inspectors in. Some now think this was a very clear open and shut case. We bombed them for days in 1998 because Saddam Hussein threw out inspectors. We had evidence that they had a lot of bad stuff for a very long time which we discovered after the first Gulf War. Knowing that he was a megalomaniac, knowing he would not want to compete for attention with bin Laden, there were legitimate concerns about what he might do. So, I made a reasoned judgment. Unfortunately, the person who actually got to execute the policy did not.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Withdrawing troops is dangerous, including 100,000 civilians

Withdrawing troops is dangerous. That’s why I’ve been working to make sure that we knew all of the various steps we would have to take, because it’s not just bringing our troops and equipment home. We have more than 100,000 civilians there, working for the embassy, businesses, and charities. We have a lot of Iraqis who sided with us, translators and drivers who put their lives on the line. I’m committed to withdrawing our troops and to put the Iraqi government on notice that their time is running out.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

No military solution in Iraq; this debate motivates solution

I’m looking to bring our troops home, starting within 60 days of my becoming president. I have the greatest admiration for the American military. I’ve been to Iraq three times and met with the leaders of the various factions. But there is no military solution, and our young men and women should not remain as the referees of their conflict. The so-called surge was able to pacify certain parts of Iraq. If we put enough of our men and women and equipment in, we’re going to be able to have some tactical military success. But the whole purpose of the surge was to force the Iraqi government to move quickly towards the kind of resolution that only it can bring about. What is motivating the Iraqi government is the debate in the political campaign here. They know they will no longer have a blank check from Bush, that I will with draw troops from Iraq. That will put even more pressure on the Iraqis to finally make the decisions that they have to make.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

Called war on terror “Bush’s war” but has played active role

[After 9/11], Clinton called for punishment for those responsible, the hijackers, and their ilk and vowed that any country that chose to harbor terrorists and “in any way aid or comfort them whatsoever will now face the wrath of our country.”

Bush apparently liked what he heard. He echoed her language and issued an almost identical threat, eight days later, in his address to Congress.

On the campaign trail, and especially in television debates, Clinton is at pains to frame the so-called war on terror as “Bush’s war,” but she’s had an active part in it. It isn’t as if her 9/11 speech was an exception. Clinton supported Bush’s invasion and bombardment of Afghanistan. She voted for the USA PATRIOT Act, which gave the government new unconstitutional tools of search and seizure even as federal agents were sweeping thousands of innocent civilians off the streets of US cities, notably in New York.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 18-19 , Nov 11, 2007

2002: Accepted connection between Saddam & Al Qaeda

When the US-led invasion of Iraq lay in the balance, pending a vote in Congress, Hillary rose in the Democrat-controlled Senate and voted to give the president the authority he sought to decide to attack.

But Clinton not only gave Bush and Cheney her vote, she embraced their argument, saying that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had “worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stocks... and his nuclear program.”

Alone among Democratic Senators, she accused Iraq’s leader of giving “aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members.” That link, so shamelessly pushed by the Bush administration, was always doubted by most in so-called “intelligence”--and most Democrats, not to mention war critics. It was later publicly debunked as false.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 19 , Nov 11, 2007

Leave combat troops in Iraq only for conterterrorism

EDWARDS: [To Clinton]: Good people have differences about this issue. I heard Senator Clinton say on Sunday that she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s a continuation of the war. I do not think we should continue combat missions in Iraq, and when I’m on a stage with the Republican nominee come the fall of 2008, I’m going to make it clear that I’m for ending the war.

CLINTON: I said there may be a continuing counterterrorism mission, which, if it still exists, will be aimed at al Qaeda in Iraq. It may require combat, Special Operations Forces or some other form of that, but the vast majority of our combat troops should be out.

EDWARDS: I would not continue combat missions in Iraq. Combat missions mean that the war is continuing

Q: Would you send combat troops back in if there was genocide?

EDWARDS: I believe that America along with the rest of the world would have a responsibility to respond to genocide. But it’s not something we should do alone.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 26, 2007

No funding that does not move us toward withdrawal

Q: The president is going to submit a new spending bill this week calling for another $200 billion in spending for Iraq. Last May you voted to cut off spending. Will you do so again with this spending bill?

A: I will not vote for any funding that does not move us toward beginning to withdraw our troops, that does not have pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions that they have, that does not recognize that there is a diplomatic endeavor that has to be undertaken. This has gone on now, unfortunately, for years, with the president holding on to his failed policy and with Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail deciding to support that failed policy, and it’s really the only way that I can register my very strong disapproval of this policy, and I will continue to do so.

Q: But some of this money goes to protect our troops from mines and IEDs.

A: I think the best way to protect our troops is to start bringing them home.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Sep 23, 2007

Push Pentagon to start planning for Iraq withdrawal

We need to begin moving our troops out, and we have to do it carefully and responsibly. Moving troops out cannot happen without careful planning, which is why I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to make sure they’re actually planning because they’ve been resistant to doing so.

Secondly, we need much stronger pressure on the Iraqi government than this administration has been willing to bring. And I would certainly condition any aid of any kind on their actually making the political decisions that they have been reluctant and unwilling to do so far. There is no military solution. Everybody agrees with that. And the political solutions seem to be out of the grasp of the Iraqis, because they’re still jockeying for power.

If you look at how we would have to take our troops out, plus the equipment, which we would not want to leave, plus what we do with the Iraqis who sided with us--thousands of them--plus more than 100,000 American contractors who are there--this is a massive, complicated undertaking

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Redeploy responsibly, with regional diplomatic effort

I have a 3-point plan to get out of Iraq, starting with redeploying our troops, but doing it responsibly and carefully, because taking troops out can be just as dangerous as bringing them in. And we’ve got to get out of Iraq smarter than we got in. Secondly, we’ve got to put more pressure on the Iraqi government, including withholding aid from them if they don’t begin to stabilize the country themselves. And thirdly, we need an intensive diplomatic effort, regionally and internationally.
Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

Pentagon calls her unpatriotic for asking about exit plan

Q: The 2006 election gave the Democrats in office a mandate to end the US occupation of Iraq. Is the reason why we are still in Iraq and seemingly will be for some time due to the Democrats’ fear that blame for the loss of the war will be placed on them by the Republican spin machine?

A: Since the election of 2006, the Democrats have tried repeatedly to win Republican support with a simple proposition that we need to set a timeline to begin bringing our troops home now. I happen to agree that there is no military solution, and the Iraqis refuse to pursue the political solutions. In fact, I asked the Pentagon a simple question: Have you prepared for withdrawing our troops? In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic; that I shouldn’t be asking questions. Well, one of the problems is that there are a lot of questions that we’re asking but we’re not getting answers from the Bush administration.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Deauthorize Iraq war, and don’t grant new war authority

The American military has done its job. Look at what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein, they gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections, they gave the Iraqi government the chance to give the people of Iraq a better future.

Now, I see the signs “Lead us out of Iraq now.” That is what we are trying to do. I have joined with Senator Byrd to sponsor legislation to deauthorize this war. The point of our proposal is very simple: To end the president’s authority for the war and force him to seek new authority.

If he thinks that he can get any kind of authority through the Congress, I think that he’s mistaken. But we need to end the authority that he is currently operating under, in order to strip him of the legitimacy of going forward with his policy. When I’m president, we are going to have a different foreign policy. We’re going to start talking to people again. We’re going to start rebuilding our alliances again.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference , Jun 20, 2007

Phased redeployment, not irresponsible immediate withdrawal

Hillary’s remarks in 2007 struck an array of themes: Bush had mishandled the war; military men & women were doing a fantastic job; troops should be gradually redeployed out of Iraq. She said nothing about her original vote. But she did say she favored capping the troops at their current levels, though she acknowledged it was impractical for Congress to stop the president’s surge. She called for a troop surge to Afghanistan. Hillary also proposed a series of political, military, and economic conditions to be met by the Iraqis and certified by the president. Absent that certification, she proposed cutting off further funding--not to American troops, but to Iraqi security forces and to the contractors guarding Iraqi officials.

She continued to support “phased redeployment,” as opposed to the immediate withdrawal of 50,000 troops proposed by John Edwards, or a dramatic funding cutoff mentioned by others. Her approach, she told a reporter, stemmed from being “cursed with the responsibility gene.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.301-302 , Jun 8, 2007

Bush misused authorization for war

Hillary had this interview with Joshua Green four years after she voted for the war (as Green recalls it):
Q: Was Bush’s decision to go to war really something she didn’t expect at the time?

A: I’ve said that he misused the authority granted to him.

Q: Most people correctly foresaw the vote as authorization for Bush to invade Iraq. Do you mean you were not among them?

A: Well, I think that’s correct.

But here are the facts. A heated national debate preceded the vote, with the antiwar voices from both the Left and the Right demanding the president seek congressional authority before proceeding. He did so. The measure was entitled, “A Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.” Nothing ambiguous about it--and Hillary voted for it.

Now Hillary claims she didn’t believe that she was voting for war. She doesn’t defend her vote or call it a mistake. She wants to blame it on someone else--because Bush misled her.

Source: The Extreme Makeover, by Bay Buchanan, p. 86 , Jun 5, 2007

The Iraq war is Bush’s war

The Iraq war is Bush’s war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war. We are trying to end the war. And each of us has made that very clear. We have different approaches. I have a three-step plan to bring the troops home starting now, put pressure on the Iraqi government to take responsibility, and cut off aid when they won’t, and engage in intensive diplomacy regionally and internationally.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Iraq war wouldn’t have happened had the inspectors been sent

Q: Do you regret not reading the National Intelligence Estimate before the Iraq war vote? A: I feel like I was totally briefed, I knew all of the arguments that were being made by everyone from all directions. I thought the best way to find out who was right in the intelligence community was to send in the inspectors. If Bush had allowed the inspectors to finish the job they started, we would have known that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD and we would not have gone and invaded Iraq.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

It was a mistake to trust Bush on his judgment to wage war

If I had known then what I know now I never would have voted to give Bush authority. It was a mistake to trust Bush that he would do what he told all of us he would do. He made it in speeches, he told us in private that he would put the inspectors in to determine whether or not the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Clinton administration, many other countries who thought that there were stores of chemical and biological weapons were true or not.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

This war is up to Iraqi people to win or lose, not the US

Q: Harry Reid recently said the war in Iraq is lost. Some call his comments treasonous. Do you agree with the position of your Senate leader?

A: The American people have spoken. The Congress has voted, as of today, to end this war. And now we can only hope that the president will listen. I’m very proud of the Congress under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid for putting together a piece of legislation which says we will fund our troops and protect them, we will limit the number of days that they can be deployed, and we will start to bring them home. And I think that is exactly what the American people want. This is not America’s war to win or lose. We have given the Iraqi people the chance to have freedom, to have their own country. It is up to them to decide whether or not they’re going to take that chance.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

No permanent bases, but continuing residual force in Iraq

Q: You say you envision a continuing presence in Iraq to protect vital American interests?

A: My goal is to end the war when I’m President & to bring our troops home. But as has been stated in [April 2007 legislation], we do envision a vastly reduced residual force to remain for some limited period of time to train Iraqi troops, to provide logistical support, for counter-terrorism missions, to protect the Kurds if necessary. That does not mean we would have a permanent force. I am absolutely clear: we do not plan a permanent occupation or permanent bases, but there may be a continuing mission to protect America’s vital interests, and to support an Iraqi government that we hope to be an ally going forward, assuming they are acting responsibly. So, the bottom line for me is that we will begin re-deploying our troops as soon as I am President, and we will do so in as expeditious a manner as possible, [leaving] as few troops as necessary with no permanent occupation, and no permanent bases.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org , Apr 10, 2007

Online petition to pressure Bush & GOP for redeployment

Q: You recently launched a petition urging President Bush not to veto the Iraq bill and you said we need to “begin phased deployment of the troops out of Iraq.”

A: We need to keep the pressure on Bush not to veto it, which is why I have launched this online petition drive, to have pressure put on Republicans particularly in the Senate, because we have to do everything possible to put pressure on the President so that we can make it absolutely undeniable that we have to reverse course. I think we should let the American people understand, and let President Bush fully understand that it is he who is rejecting the funding. We have passed funding, but we did it within the context of timelines, and if he can be held responsible for vetoing the funding because he will not start to follow the will of the American people, and de-escalate this conflict, and bring our troops home, I think that puts tremendous pressure on Republicans who are going to be running for office again in 2008.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org , Apr 10, 2007

Takes responsibility for Iraq war vote, but not a mistake

Q: Why wasn’t your vote authorizing the Iraq war a mistake?

A: My vote was a sincere vote based on the facts and assurances that I had at the time. And I have taken responsibility for my vote, and I believe that none of us should get a free pass. It is up to the voters to judge what each of us has said and done. But I think the most important thing now is to focus on what we have to do together to try to force this president to change direction.

Q: Why are you against bringing the US troops home right now by cutting off funding?

A: I have introduced legislation to stop the escalation & to protect our troops. My legislation also says to the Iraqis: Enough. We are not going to fight your battles. We are not sending our young men and women in. You have to be on the front lines of your own defense. People ask me, “why don’t you want to cut money for American troops?” I want to cut money for Iraqi troops, because they’re not standing up and fighting the way that they have said they would.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Cap troops in Iraq and no more blank check for war

I propose capping the troop levels. I want to make it clear that we need to threaten the Iraqi government, that we’re going to take money away from their troops, not our troops who still lack body armor and armored vehicles; that we’re going to send a clear message that we are finished with their empty promises and with this president’s blank check.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting , Feb 2, 2007

Cut off funds for Iraqi use, but not for troops

Q (to Sen. McCain): Senator Hillary Clinton says we should not cut off funding for American troops, but cut off funding for the security for Iraqi government officials and cut off funding for the Iraqi army because they simply have not measured up. Would you support her in that effort?

McCAIN: I don’t see any place in the Constitution where that kind of authority is granted to the Congress. The Congress can cut off funding. And if my colleagues believe that they’re going to send young Americans to die in an unwinnable situation, it seems to me that their conscience would dictate that they cut off the funding for the entire effort. This resolution is basically a vote of no confidence in the men and women we are sending over there. We’re saying, “We’re sending you-we’re not going to stop you from going there, but we don’t believe you can succeed and we’re not willing to support that.” I don’t think the troops would find that an expression of support.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 21, 2007

Phased redeployment out of Iraq, beginning immediately

Q: What should be done in Iraq?

A: #1: We need to resolve the political problems in Iraq. They’ve been allowed to fester. How are you going to guarantee the reasonable Sunni majority a place in the government? How are you going to distribute the oil revenue, so people don’t feel that they’re being ripped off? These are key issues for political resolution of sectarian violence. #2: We’ve got to have the regional neighbors involved--with a high-level contact group, where we bring the regional powers together. #3: The President’s strategy has basically been, “Well, when the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down.” Well, the Iraqis have been standing up, but they haven’t been fighting. That’s why we need a phased redeployment--moving our troops out so they have to stand and fight for themselves.

Q: Give us a timetable for that phasing out.

A: When we originally proposed it, we said that 2006 should be a year of transition. We’re running out of time in 2006. I think this needs to be done immediately.

Source: NY 2006 Senate Debate, at University of Rochester , Oct 20, 2006

OpEd: Voting for war enabled criticizing how it was waged

Hillary's vote to give Pres. Bush authority to go to war gives her the ability to criticize how it has been waged. That's how politics works. She is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has been an unequivocally strong supporter of the troops. No voting for and against for Hillary. Only hawks can criticize wars.

"I was one who supported giving Pres. Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that this was the right vote. I have had many disputes and disagreements with the administration over how that authority has been used, but I stand by the vote to provide the authority because I think it was a necessary step in order to maximize the outcome that did occur in the Security Council with the unanimous vote to send in inspectors."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 15, 2003
Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.214 , Oct 11, 2005

2002: Attacking Iraq "not a good option" but authorized it

Hillary ultimately voted for the resolution empowering President Bush to wage war, but she did so with a perfect equipoise. She managed to sound vehemently ant-Saddam without sounding pro-Bush.

In a floor speech on the measure to authorize the use of force against Iraq, Hillary managed quite a juggling act, keeping a whole cupboard of teacups and saucers spinning in the air. She criticized the United Nations for putting limits on inspection sites. She warned of Saddam Hussein's ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. She worried that an unchecked Saddam could endanger the entire Middle East (read: Israel). She fretted that a "unilateral" attack could prompt Russia to attack Chechen rebels in Georgia, China to attack Taiwan, and India to attack Pakistan. She concluded that going to war against Iraq "on the present facts is not a good option"--but voted to enable George W. Bush to lead the nation into war.

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrrell, p. 48-49 , Feb 25, 2004

Hillary Clinton on Voting Record

Iraq war vote was meant to be used as coercive diplomacy

Q: Why can’t you just say right now that vote was a mistake?

A: I did an enormous amount of investigation and due diligence to try to determine what if any threat could flow from the history of Saddam being both an owner of and a seeker of WMD. The ide of putting inspectors back in was a credible idea. I believe in coercive diplomacy. You try to figure out how to move bad actors in a direction that you prefer in order to avoid more dire consequences. If you took it on the face of it and if you took it on the basis of what we hoped would happen with the inspectors going in, that in and of itself was a policy that we’ve used before. We have used the threat of force to try to make somebody change their behavior. What no one could have fully appreciated is how obsessed Bush was with this particular mission. Unfortunately, I and others who warned at the time, let the inspectors finish their work do not wage a preemptive war, use diplomacy, were just talking to a brick wall.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Voted against Levin Amendment: it gave UN veto over US

Q: In 2002, Sen. Levin offered an amendment, the Levin amendment, which called for the UN to pass a new resolution explicitly approving the use of force against Iraq. It also required the president to return to Congress if his UN efforts failed. You did not participate in that vote.

A: Number one, the Levin amendment, in my view, gave the Security Council of the United Nations a veto over American presidential power. I don’t believe that is an appropriate policy for the United States, no matter who is our president. Number two, I have the greatest respect for Senator Levin. He is my chairman on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And immediately after we did have the vote on the authorization, went to work with him to try to make sure that every piece of intelligence we had was given to the UN inspectors. Number three, I actually joined with Senator Byrd on an amendment that would limit the president’s authorization to one year.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 13, 2008

Voted for Iraq war based on available info; now would not

Q: You made a high-profile apology for your vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution. You have said, “We need a leader who will be open and honest, who will tell the truth when they made a mistake.” Was that not a direct shot at your opponent, Senator Clinton?

EDWARDS: No, I think that’s a question for the conscience of anybody who voted for this war. Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they’ve voted the right way. If so, they can support their vote.

CLINTON: I take responsibility for my vote. Obviously, I did as good a job I could at the time. It was a sincere vote based on the information available to me. If I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way. But I think that the real question before us is: What do we do now? How do we try to persuade or require this president to change course? He is stubbornly refusing to listen to the will of the American people.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

Critic of Iraq war, but won’t recant 2002 vote in its favor

She voted in 2002 to authorize the use of military force and has refused to recant her vote. But Clinton has been a vocal critic of the way the war has been conducted.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” , Nov 23, 2006

Regrets Bush’s handling of war, but not her war vote

Q: You’ve been critical of Pres. Bush’s handling of the war. But you have not apologized for your vote to authorize that action.

CLINTON: I regret the way the president used the authority that Congress gave him. I thought it made sense to get inspector back into Iraq, and backing it up with coercive diplomacy. I was worried that there were residual WMD, and that Saddam could have done something quite irrational. We know now that this administration never intended to let the inspectors do their job and contain Saddam. I take responsibility for my vote. I regret that we’ve had strategic blunders and misjudgments. But if we knew then what we know now, there never would have been a vote, and there never would have been a war. This president chose that war and unfortunately, was ill-prepared for what was needed to be done to be successful.

Q: Do you regret voting that way at the time?

CLINTON: I regret the way he used it. I don’t believe in do-overs in life. I made the best judgment at the time.

Source: NY 2006 Senate Debate, moderated by Bill Ritter , Oct 22, 2006

Voted YES on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:
  • that it is a vital US national interest to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force;
  • that it should be US policy to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of Iran;
  • to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy;
  • that the US should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
    Opponents of the Resolution say:
  • This amendment would withdraw American forces from Iraq without regard to the real conditions on the ground.
  • The consequences of an American retreat would be terrible for the security of the American people at home.
  • Our commitment is not open-ended. It is conditional on the Iraqis moving toward self-government and self-defense.
    Supporters of the Resolution say:
  • Congress talks almost incessantly about the situation in Iraq as if on 9/11 the situation involved Iraq. Of course, it didn't. We were attacked by al-Qaida operating out of Afghanistan on 9/11.
  • One of the theories we hear is that somehow staying in Iraq is necessary because all the terrorists will come into Iraq, and then they wouldn't be able to attack us anywhere else. Some call this the roach-motel theory. The fact is, al-Qaida is operating in 60 to 80 countries. Yet our resources are only heavily focused on this Iraq situation.
  • In terms of differences from other Iraq amendments: This is binding, not just a sense of the Senate.
  • Secondly, we have a date; other amendments are open-ended.
  • Thirdly, this has an over-the-horizon force specifically to protect our security interests.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted YES on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding.

Amendment to express the sense of the Senate on future requests for funding for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A YES vote would:
  • Request all future funding for ongoing military operations overseas, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, be included in the President's annual fiscal year budget proposal
  • Call for the President to submit to Congress by Sept. 1, 2005, an amendment to his annual fiscal budget, that details estimated costs for ongoing military operations overseas.
  • Ask that all future funding requests for ongoing military operations overseas appear in the appropriation bills in which such expenditures are normally included.
Reference: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act; Bill S.AMDT.464 to H.R.1268 ; vote number 2005-96 on Apr 20, 2005

Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
  • $5.1 billion for security
  • $5.2 billion for reconstruction costs
  • $65.6 billion for military operations and maintenance
  • $1.3 billion for veterans medical care
  • $10 billion as a loan that would be converted to a grant if 90% of all bilateral debt incurred by the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, would have to be forgiven by other countries.
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

Clinton co-sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.

  • Condemns bigotry and acts of violence or discrimination against any Americans, including Sikh-Americans.
  • Calls upon local and Federal law enforcement authorities to: (1) work to prevent hate crimes against all Americans; and (2) prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all those who commit hate crimes.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR255 on Oct 4, 2001

No troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq.

Clinton co-sponsored opposing troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq

Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. BIDEN: This bipartisan resolution opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence. Just as important, it says what we and many of our colleagues are for: a strategy that can produce a political settlement in Iraq. That's the only way to stop Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other and allow our troops to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.

    Excertps from resolution:
  • Whereas the US strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and bipartisan support from Congress;
  • Whereas maximizing chances of success in Iraq should be our goal, and the best chance of success requires a change in current strategy;
  • Whereas the situation in Iraq is damaging the standing, influence, and interests of the US in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world;
  • Whereas more than 3,000 US military personnel have already lost their lives in Iraq, and more than 22,500 have been wounded in Iraq;
  • Whereas on January 10, 2007, Pres. Bush announced his plan to deepen the US military involvement in Iraq by deploying approximately 21,000 additional US combat forces to Iraq;
  • Whereas an open-ended commitment of US forces in Iraq is unsustainable and a deterrent to the Iraqis making the political compromises that are needed for violence to end and for stability and security to be achieved in Iraq;
  • Resolved: That it is the sense of Congress that it is not in the national interest of the US to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the US military force presence in Iraq;
  • the United States should engage nations in the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally-sponsored peace and reconciliation process for Iraq.
Source: Bipartisan Resolution on Iraq (S.CON.RES.2 ) 07-SCR2 on Jan 17, 2007

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Clinton co-sponsored deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

  • Whereas hundreds of thousands of people have died and approximately 2,500,000 people have been displaced in Darfur, Sudan since 2003;
  • Whereas Congress declared on July 22, 2004 that the atrocities in Darfur were genocide;
  • Whereas the Sudanese President refused to allow the UN to deploy a peacekeeping force to Darfur;
  • Whereas deliberately targeting civilians and people providing humanitarian assistance during an armed conflict is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, and those who commit such violations must be held accountable;
  • Whereas on June 11, 2007, Sudanese President al-Bashir pledged to accept unconditionally the full United Nations-African Union hybrid deployment;
  • Whereas to establish conditions of peace and security, the peacekeeping mission must be accompanied by a peace-building process among the parties to the conflict;
  • Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate urges the President of the US to work with members of the UN Security Council and the African Union to ensure the expeditious deployment of the United Nations-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force with a mandate affirming that civilian protection is a primary mission objective;
  • Provide the UN-African Union hybrid force with sufficient logistical support and airlift capacity; and necessary vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters for tactical reconnaissance and armed deterrence;
  • Be prepared to implement meaningful measures, including the imposition of multilateral sanctions, an arms embargo, and a no-fly zone for Sudanese military flights over Darfur, if the Government of Sudan obstructs deployment of the agreed upon peacekeeping mission.

Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Require Congress' approval before military action in Iran.

Clinton co-sponsored requiring Congress' approval before military action in Iran