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October 01, 2007

Clinton in Oakland Pledges to End the War: But What of Her Plans for Long-Term U.S. Presence for “Training and Counterterrorism”?

Hillary Clinton in Oakland reported by Peace Action WestYesterday, Senator Clinton told a crowd of 14,000 in Oakland, California that the day after the Presidential election her election would deliver a message to the U.S. and rest of the world "the era of cowboy diplomacy is over."

I got a chance to briefly talk to Senator Clinton about the signature aspect of that era: the continuing U.S. military presence in Iraq. I shared with her Peace Action’s concern that leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq as a residual military force would make our country less safe and that U.S. military presence serves to inflame the violence in Iraq. The Senator told me “I agree with you” and replied that her concern was to bring the troops out in a safe and orderly way. I asked her about a timeline for withdrawal, reminding her that military experts agree that withdrawal can take place quite quickly and in a matter of months not years. She again said “I agree with you” before being whisked off.

I was surprised by her firm agreement with Peace Action’s concerns and that she was willing to focus intently on our short interchange given the hordes of people swarming around us. However, previous statements have made clear that she is still keeping her options open for a significant troop presence in Iraq into and perhaps through her first term. As this blog has reported, she has told reporters that as President she may decide that a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq is necessary to conduct counter-terrorism attacks, to engage in training Iraqi troops, and to protect the U.S. embassy. It’s hard to square this position with her promises to “end the war” given that such as force would mean tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq indefinitely. While it’s natural for a serious Presidential contender to want to keep future policy options open on an issue that is in as much flux the Iraq war, this is far too important an issue not to be clear with the voters about what her plans really are. Democratic primary voters should let her know that she really can’t continue to have her “anti-war” cake and eat it too.

UPDATE: Peace Action's own Danya Rosen got a chance to speak with a student reporter from Golden Gate Xpress at the event. Read their coverage here.

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Comments

John Detwiler

We all tend to project what we'd wish to hear onto what is actually said. Sen. Clinton offers no "firm agreements" as the author interpreted. They are slick political side-steppings, manipulative yet meaningless. I would like nothing more than to have a woman president--a genuine, good woman president. Just look at her track record of deceit and connections to big business. She's lived her entire life seeking power and wealth and uses humanitarian talk in her act to get it.
She will say whatever you wish to hear, but then she'll go right along with same program driven by (greed and) the military-industrial complex. (I know a woman who knew her well in college, and I can't print what she says due to the vulgar language involved.)
I believe that women in general make the most extraordinary world leaders. Just not THIS woman.

Eve Visconti

Senator Clinton: It is time for you to decide whether you are for or against this war! Bush says, "You're either with us or you are against us." While I don't agree with that type of thinking, usually, and did not agree with Bush when he said it, I do think this statement applies when it comes to ending the war. There are times to take a firm stand. The American people are not behind this war. Fifty percent of the American people didn't want it to start, and now nearly 70% don't want it to continue - and that would and should include NOT starting yet another war with Iran. As president, you are entrusted with carrying out the will of the people. You want to appear as strong as a man - the way to do that is to take a strong stand for peace! I would love to have a woman president, but only if she is a strong advocate for peace. Are you or aren't you?

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