(CNSNews.com) - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in the Democratic debate on CBS News on Saturday night that the Islamic State must be defeated but doing so “cannot be an American fight.”
Clinton made the statement after moderator John Dickerson, referencing the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris, asked her if the Obama administration—in which she served—underestimated the threat from ISIS.
“So Secretary Clinton, I'd like to start with you,” said Dickerson. “Hours before the attacks, President Obama said, ‘I don't think ISIS is gaining strength.’ 72% of Americans think the fight against ISIS is going badly. Won't the legacy of this administration which is--which you were a part of--won't that legacy be that it underestimated the threats from ISIS?
“Well, John, I think that we have to look at ISIS as the leading threat of an international terror network,” Clinton said.
“It cannot be contained, it must be defeated,” she said.
“There is no question in my mind that if we summon our resources, both our leadership resources and all of the tools at our disposal, not just military force which should be used as a last resort, but our diplomacy, our development aid, law enforcement, sharing of intelligence in a much more open and cooperative way that we can bring people together,” she said.
“But it cannot be an American fight,” she said.
“And I think what the president has consistently said--which I agree with--is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS,” she said.
“That is why we have troops in Iraq that are helping to train and build back up the Iraqi military, why we have special operators in Syria working with the Kurds and Arabs so that we can be supportive. But this cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential,” she said.
After Dickerson noted that Obama had called ISIS the JV team and said that “I could not have predicted the extent to which ISIS could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq,” former Secretary of State Clinton cited former President Bush in explaining why ISIS expanded its influence after the U.S. withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011, three years into President Obama’s administration.
“Well, John, look, I think that what happened when we abided by the agreement that George W. Bush made with the Iraqis to leave by 2011 is that an Iraqi army was left that had been trained and that was prepared to defend Iraq,” she said. “Unfortunately, Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, set about decimating it.
Then she suggested the U.S. should have trained and equipped “moderates” in Syria.
“And then,” she said, “with the revolution against Assad: and I did early on say we needed to try to find a way to train and equip moderates very early so that we would have a better idea of how to deal with Assad because I thought there would be extremist groups filling the vacuum.
“So, yes, this has developed,” she said. “I think that there are many other reasons why it has in addition, to what's happened in the region. But I don't think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility. I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself.”