KUSA – In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forced Saturday to defend her record in the Obama administration and as an original supporter of the Iraq War.
Standing between her two opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination during the party’s second debate, Clinton said the United States is not responsible for the latest spate of terrorist attacks but must “bring people together” to defeat the Islamic State.
All three candidates — Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — stressed the need to take the fight to Islamic jihadists in a rallying cry that made them sound more like the larger number of Republicans vying for the White House.
“It cannot be contained. It must be defeated,” Clinton said of the terrorist threat. She promised to outline a plan to work with European and Middle East allies against “the scourge of terrorism” because “all the other issues we want to deal with depend on our being secure and strong.”
At the same time, Clinton said, “I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists.”
The Paris attacks dominated the early part of the Democratic debate in Iowa, where voters will kick off the 2016 voting in February.
Although Sanders and O’Malley have taken stands more dovish than Clinton in the past, they jumped at the opportunity to point out her support for President Obama’s cautious approach in Syria and elsewhere, as well as her 2003 vote for the war in Iraq.
“The disastrous invasion of Iraq … has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Sanders said. “The invasion of Iraq led to the massive instability we are seeing right now.”
But like Clinton, Sanders said the United States can’t dominate the battle. Middle East allies, he said. “are going to have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground. They’re going to have to take on ISIS.”
O’Malley said the growth of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks has been caused by a lack of “human intelligence” on the ground. As a result, he said, Afghanistan, Iraq,Libya and Syria are all “a mess.”
While the Paris attacks dominated the first part of the debate, the candidates also quarreled over wages and Wall Street, immigration and education, health care, guns and race.
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