Hillary's Iraq Policy: No Withdrawal
Yes, she’s courting AIPAC and wants to sound as reliable an ally to the War for Israel caucus as possible. Yes, she feels she can ignore the left, anti-war base of the party because in the end, she believes she’ll have all the money and chits she’ll need to get the nomination without those pesky 60% that want us out in 12 months. But her Iraq policy sounds a lot like a smarter version of what we have now, but a far cry from what 60% of the country say they want.
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.
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.
It’s easy to get angry and dismiss her Iraq policy, as outlined in this story, as just another Clintonian attempt at triangulation in order to be moderate and seasoned enough to be electable. Yet her overall strategy is smarter than what we have now from the Bush Administration, and is realistic in acknowledging how difficult and counterproductive a total withdrawal would be to our national interests.
And frankly, it reads like it was written by the Iraq Study Group and by her husband and Bush 41. And that may be no accident.