Clinton urges more hawkish approach on countering ISIS

Reuters , Thursday 19 Nov 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on stage during a rally after filing paperwork for the New Hampshire primary at the State House on November 9, 2015 in Concord, New Hampshire (Photo: AFP)

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged a more aggressive approach to fighting Islamic State group militants, saying an intensified air campaign is needed combined with ground forces, adding that Saudi Arabia has multiple levels of responsibilities in defeating IS as it must stop its citizens from financing terrorism.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, the former secretary of state offered her most expansive view to date on how to counter a growing militancy that launched attacks in Paris last Friday in which 129 people died.

She said it is time for a "new phase" in the fight against Islamic State: A more effective US-led air campaign that will "have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory."

The effort will require an "intelligence surge," she said, involving more Arabic speakers with expertise in the area and technical assets. There also should be no-fly zones over Syria and safe zones for people fleeing the violence, she added.

"Our goal is not to deter or contain IS, but to defeat and destroy IS," said Clinton, using an acronym to describe Islamic State.

Her words amounted to an implicit criticism of Obama, who said days before the Paris attacks that Islamic State had been contained.

Clinton said defeating Islamic State will require more ground forces to counter the militants, who have carved out a self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

She did not say whether this should include more Americans but made clear the bulk of the fight should be done with local forces. On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said more US ground forces will be needed in Iraq in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination for the November 2016 election, also said the United States will need help from American private industry to counter Islamic State's propaganda abilities.

Silicon Valley companies, she said, must not view government as its adversary when it comes to formulating counter-terrorism policies. She said social media companies can help stop terrorism by "swiftly shutting down affiliated accounts."

Clinton, who sometimes struggles to relate on the campaign trail, seemed in her element at the Council on Foreign Relations, speaking for a half hour then taking questions.

While parting ways with Obama to some degree, she hewed closely to his decision to resettle as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees as part of the traditional US welcoming role.

Many Republican candidates and more than two dozen state governors have called for a pause in the resettlement program out of fears militants might sneak into the country.

"We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations. Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee: That is just not who we are," she said.

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