Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will develop a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq within 60 days of becoming president, but “will order specialized units” to stay behind to fight terrorists there and elsewhere in the region, she wrote in a detailed Foreign Affairs magazine essay.

The New York Democrat also stressed that all options would be on the table with respect to Iran policy, though she would use diplomacy as her first weapon.

Her campaign views the nearly 6,000-word piece as a blueprint for how she would approach foreign policy as president. The essay, titled “Security and Opportunity for the Twenty-first Century,” went online at ForeignAffairs.org yesterday and is part of the magazine’s presidential series.

“Iran must conform to its nonproliferation obligations and must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table,” she wrote.

“On the other hand, if Iran is in fact willing to end its nuclear weapons program, renounce sponsorship of terrorism, support Middle East peace, and play a constructive role in stabilizing Iraq, the United States should be prepared to offer Iran a carefully calibrated package of incentives,” she wrote. “This will let the Iranian people know that our quarrel is not with them, but with their government and show the world that the United States is prepared to pursue every diplomatic option.”

Lee Feinstein, national-security director for the Clinton campaign, expanded on Mrs. Clinton’s Iran policy in a conference call with reporters yesterday.

“A commander in chief does not take options off the table,” he said, adding that Mrs. Clinton has made clear her preference is to “pursue intensive diplomacy and economic pressure as the best way to avert a nuclear program in Iran and as the best way to avert a war.”

Iran has been a hot topic in recent weeks on the campaign trail, with Mrs. Clinton’s rivals, especially former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, questioning her vote on a resolution which deemed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Asked about the criticism and charges the resolution could be viewed as giving President Bush a green light for using force in Iran, Mr. Feinstein said there is “nothing whatsoever” in that resolution that gives the president such authority.

Mrs. Clinton’s vote was to “stand up against” the Bush administration, especially since she said on the Senate floor that Mr. Bush cannot use force in Iran without congressional authority, Mr. Feinstein said.

Mrs. Clinton said if elected she would begin bringing troops home within the first two months, redirect U.S. financial aid to help Iraqi citizens, “not propping up the Iraqi government,” and replace military force in Iraq with “intensive diplomatic initiative” in the region. She also said she “will order specialized units” to engage in targeted anti-terrorism operations in Iraq and against “other terrorist organizations in the region.”

The campaign did not respond to an inquiry asking for a definition of “other organizations.”

In the essay, Mrs. Clinton said troops left behind to control terrorism would also provide security for U.S. troops and other personnel in Iraq, and train and equip Iraqi security services “to keep order and promote stability in the country, but only to the extent that such training is actually working.”

In the essay, she said she “will consider” leaving forces in the Kurdish area in northern Iraq to protect that region’s relative peace and security.

Mr. Edwards said her policy sounds like “a continuation of the war.” Other Democrats questioned how many troops would actually come home under her policy.

Mrs. Clinton said rebuilding the military will be a key priority and promised to “expand and modernize” forces so they are better prepared to meet threats.

She also invoked the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and noted “these terrorists are as determined as ever to strike the United States.” She wrote: “The forgotten frontline in the war on terror is Afghanistan, where our military effort must be reinforced.”

Among her foreign-policy principles are avoiding ideologically driven decisions, not using the military as the solution for every problem and rebuilding the nation’s international standing. She also said she would work to reduce the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

Mrs. Clinton also said Mr. Bush “squandered the respect, trust and confidence of even our closest friends and allies,” but said that can change.

“American leadership is wanting, but it is still wanted,” she wrote.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide