Clinton plays defense in Democrats’ debate

Clinton plays defense in Democrats’ debate

DES MOINES, Iowa - Reuters
Clinton plays defense in Democrats’ debate

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters at a debate watch party on November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. AFP Photo

U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton played defense over her 2003 vote backing the U.S. invasion of Iraq and inched away from President Barack Obama on Syria and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants during a contentious debate on Nov. 14. 

Clinton’s rivals for the White House, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, took a more aggressive tone than in their first debate last month. They accused Clinton of being too cozy with Wall Street and taking campaign donations that made her unwilling to stand up to corporate interests. 

The day after a series of bomb and gun attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, Sanders linked Clinton’s U.S. Senate vote authorizing the Iraq invasion to the regional chaos that followed. Sanders called it “one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of the United States.” 

“I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, unraveled the region immensely, and led to the rise of Al Qaeda and to ISIL,” said Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont. 

“I don’t think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now,” he said. 

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,” she said.