Clin­ton urges war on Is­lamic State, not Mus­lims

Fron­trun­ner plays de­fense on Iraq, Wall St at de­bate

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

DES MOINES, Iowa: White House hope­ful Hil­lary Clin­ton called for global unity to crush the Is­lamic State group, as the car­nage in Paris took cen­ter stage at Satur­day’s Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial de­bate. The three can­di­dates be­gan their de­bate with a mo­ment of si­lence for the vic­tims in France, bring­ing Fri­day’s hor­rific at­tacks an ocean away to the fore­front of the 2016 race as they dom­i­nated the first half hour of the po­lit­i­cal show­down.

Clin­ton, lib­eral US Se­na­tor Bernie San­ders and for­mer Mary­land gov­er­nor Martin O’Malley united in call­ing for the de­struc­tion of the ji­hadists ac­cused of mas­sacring at least 129 peo­ple in the French cap­i­tal. “We are not at war with Is­lam,” said the for­mer sec­re­tary of state, choos­ing her words with care as she warned or­di­nary Mus­lims should not be viewed as a threat. “We are at war with vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. Our prayers are with the peo­ple of France tonight, but that is not enough,” she said, call­ing for global re­solve to de­feat ISIS, “a bar­baric, ruth­less, vi­o­lent ji­hadist ter­ror­ist group.”

The Is­lamic State group (ISIS or IS) claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the co­or­di­nated at­tacks on a Paris con­cert hall, restau­rants and bars, and out­side France’s na­tional sta­dium - call­ing it ret­ri­bu­tion for French air strikes in Syria. “It can­not be con­tained, it must be de­feated,” Clin­ton said of the group which has over­run swathes of Syria and Iraq.

With all the talk of bat­tling the ji­hadist wave, the Democrats on stage re­fused to use the term “rad­i­cal Is­lam”, which mod­er­a­tors used Satur­day - and Repub­li­cans in the pres­i­den­tial race have used through­out the cam­paign - to de­scribe the scourge. “Let’s not fall into the trap of think­ing our Mus­lim-Amer­i­can neigh­bors... are the enemy,” O’Malley said. For­mer Florida gov­er­nor and Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Jeb Bush spoke up from afar dur­ing the de­bate, tweeting: “Yes, we are at war with rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.”

While Democrats dis­played equal de­ter­mi­na­tion to erad­i­cate ji­hadism, fis­sures ap­peared be­tween the can­di­dates on whether the United States should lead the strug­gle. Clin­ton said Amer­i­can lead­er­ship was crit­i­cal in the ef­fort, with all the diplo­matic tools at Wash­ing­ton’s dis­posal be­yond just mil­i­tary might, “but this can­not be an Amer­i­can fight.”

Amer­ica’s Fight

That drew a sharp dis­agree­ment from O’Malley. “This ac­tu­ally is Amer­ica’s fight,” he in­sisted. “Amer­ica is best when we are ac­tu­ally stand­ing up to evil in this world.” Rel­a­tively hawk­ish Clin­ton, self-de­scribed demo­cratic so­cial­ist San­ders and low­polling O’Malley took the stage in Des Moines, Iowa for their sec­ond Demo­cratic show­down in the 2016 pri­mary cy­cle. With 79 days be­fore the first state-wide vote in Iowa, fron­trun­ner Clin­ton has re­in­forced her sta­tus as the woman to beat in the race.

Her poll num­bers have risen steadily since mid-Septem­ber, to more than 54 per­cent to­day ac­cord­ing to a RealClearPol­i­tics av­er­age. San­ders is at 33 per­cent, while O’Malley is lan­guish­ing at three per­cent. With San­ders ea­ger to take the fight to Clin­ton on the econ­omy - he is call­ing for an eco­nomic revo­lu­tion, while knock­ing Clin­ton for her ties to Wall Street - the re­fo­cus on ter­ror­ism shifted the early por­tion of the de­bate in fa­vor of the for­mer top diplo­mat, flu­ent in for­eign pol­icy.

But San­ders stood his ground, ar­gu­ing that the Iraq war, which thense­n­a­tor Clin­ton voted to au­tho­rize in 2002, laid the foun­da­tion for the surg­ing ji­hadist threat that once more sowed car­nage on Fri­day. “I would ar­gue that the dis­as­trous in­va­sion of Iraq, some­thing that I strongly op­posed, has un­rav­eled the re­gion com­pletely and led to the rise of AlQaeda and to ISIS,” San­ders said. The Iraq war, he re­peated, “was one of the worst for­eign pol­icy blun­ders in the mod­ern history of the United States.”

Clin­ton, who has fre­quently called the Iraq vote a mis­take, said it should be placed in the his­tor­i­cal con­text of years of ter­ror­ism be­fore the in­va­sion. “This is an in­cred­i­bly com­pli­cated re­gion of the world. It’s be­come more com­pli­cated. And many of the fights that are go­ing on are not ones that the United States has ei­ther started or have a role in,” she said.

Clin­ton said coun­tries in the re­gion would have to play a ma­jor role in re­solv­ing the con­flict. “It can­not be an Amer­i­can fight. 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. Clin­ton struck a sharp con­trast to Obama’s com­ments in an in­ter­view aired on Fri­day that IS had been con­tained, say­ing it “can­not be con­tained, it must be de­feated.”

She also played up her ef­forts to find so­lu­tions in the re­gion, not­ing she had pushed for an ef­fort to train and equip Syr­ian mod­er­ates “be­cause I thought there would be ex­trem­ist groups fill­ing the vac­uum”. The for­mer sec­re­tary of state drew an­other con­trast with Obama on Syr­ian refugees, say­ing she urged the ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­crease its plan to ac­cept 10,000 refugees in fis­cal 2016. “I said we should go to 65 (thou­sand), but only if we have as care­fully screen­ing and vet­ting process as we can imag­ine, what­ever re­sources it takes,” she said.

Wall Street

On the eco­nomic front, the can­di­dates sparred - gen­tly, com­pared with their Repub­li­can ri­vals who have al­ready clashed in four on-stage de­bates - over how to in­crease wages and ex­pand the work force. Clin­ton also said Satur­day she had a “very ag­gres­sive plan” to rein in Wall Street’s big banks. San­ders shot back with a blunt mes­sage - “Not good enough” - and es­sen­tially chal­lenged Clin­ton to dis­avow much of her con­nec­tions to Wall Street mil­lion­aires who back her cam­paign. “They ex­pect to get some­thing, ev­ery­body knows that,” San­ders said, im­ply­ing that es­tab­lish­ment can­di­dates like Clin­ton would be in debt to Wall Street supporters. “The busi­ness model of Wall Street is fraud,” San­ders said. “I will break up th­ese banks” if elected. —Agen­cies


DES MOINES, Iowa: Demo­cratic Pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Hil­lary Clin­ton and Bernie San­ders (left) wave and Martin O’Malley looks on dur­ing the sec­ond Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary de­bate in the Sh­es­low Au­di­to­rium of Drake Univer­sity on Satur­day.—

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