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Hillary Clinton Just Explained How She Will Battle the Islamic State — And Win

"Every society faces a choice between fear and resolve," she said. "The time for delay is over. We should get this done."

by Olivia Becker
Nov 19 2015, 6:20pm

Photo via Justin Lane/EPA

Hillary Clinton is pulling out all the stops in order to "intensify and broaden" US efforts to defeat the Islamic State and fight the spread of global jihadism.

Speaking in New York City Thursday morning, the former secretary of state and current Democratic presidential frontrunner delivered a speech outlining a three-prong strategy to fight IS. Her plan primarily relies on intensifying coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria, coordinating with allied ground troops in the region, and increasing domestic efforts to combat the spread of jihadi ideology online and in terrorist "hot spots" worldwide. 

Clinton's speech comes less than a week after Islamic State's coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, which she repeatedly referenced. 

"Every society faces a choice between fear and resolve," she said. "The time for delay is over. We should get this done."

Related: In a Break With Obama, Hillary Clinton Backs No-Fly Zone in Syria

The first part of her plan is to "smash the would-be caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria." Clinton emphasized that she did not want to see another 100,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq, but that the US should support a ground campaign made up of allied forces, especially Sunni Arab forces, in order to take back IS territory. 

Clinton called out Turkey in particular, which she said "has been more focused on the Kurds than on countering ISIS." Instead, Turkey needs to do a better job of sealing its border in order to cut off the flow of fighters coming to Syria and stop killing Kurdish fighters that are battling IS. 

The second component, Clinton said, is to "disrupt and dismantle global terrorist infrastructure on the ground and online," beyond just Iraq, Syria and the Middle East. She emphasized the importance of fighting jihadi ideology that is disseminated through propaganda, message boards, and chatrooms and further facilitates the recruitment of young fighters. It is just as important to "deny them virtual territory just as we deny them actual territory," she said.

Finally, Clinton said the US needed to bolster domestic security in order to protect American citizens from threats at home. She called on Silicon Valley and the private sector to better cooperate with the government, by sharing intelligence and monitoring efforts online. She also said that cooperation with law enforcement would be key in order to "both keep us safe and protect our privacy."

During her speech, Clinton also took several veiled jabs at her Republican opponents. In recent days, GOP presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, have said they would screen Syrian refugees coming to the US to only allow Christians to immigrate. Over the last week, 31 current US governors, most of whom are Republicans, have said they would block Syrians from their states. House Republicans are voting on a bill today that would add increased restrictions to Syrian refugees coming to the US, which Obama has vowed to veto if it reaches his desk.

"Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee — that is just not who we are," Clinton said.

Related: Email to Hillary Clinton Shows Effort to Quash Story About WikiLeaks

Clinton cautioned against alienating Muslims living in the US and said we should be doing more to alleviate the refugee crisis, not less.

"We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values," Clinton said. "It would be a cruel irony indeed if ISIS can force families from their homes and then also prevent them from ever finding new ones."

Clinton has been campaigning hard on her foreign policy experience as the issue of the Islamic State and national security has quickly moved to the forefront of the presidential race in the wake of last week's Paris attacks.

In her opening statement at the second Democratic debate on Saturday night, just 24 hours after the Paris attacks took place, Clinton emphasized that the stakes in next year's election are high. "This election is not only about choosing the next president," Clinton said. "It's also about choosing a next commander-in-chief."

But Clinton has struggled to set herself apart from President Obama's foreign policy and national security legacy. During the question and answer segment after her speech, moderator Fareed Zakaria asked Clinton whether she thought Obama had underestimated the threat of IS when he called them the "JV squad."

Clinton demurred. "I don't think it's useful to go back and re-plow old ground," she said.

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