Commentary Magazine


But What About Those Terrorist Camps?

In the second half of her interview with Bill O’Reilly, airing tonight, Hillary Clinton claims there’s nothing left for the U.S. military to do in Iraq:

First of all, I believe that our military has fulfilled all their military missions . . .There’s no doubt in my mind. They got rid of Saddam Hussein, which they were asked to do. They gave the Iraqis free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the space and time to make the decisions that only the Iraqis can make for themselves . . . There is no military solution to what we face in Iraq, which is unprecedented. It is dangerous, it is unstable.

Well, some might argue that it’s Iraq’s very instability that requires our commitment to staying on and helping. One might even put it this way:

It will matter to us if Iraq totally collapses into civil war, if it becomes a failed state the way Afghanistan was, where terrorists are free to basically set up camp and launch attacks against us.

In fact someone did put it that way: Hillary Clinton. That was her argument against troop withdrawal in late 2005. It’s now 2008, and Iraq is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was then. If she couldn’t justify risking a failed Iraq when things felt truly hopeless, how can she be so dismissive of it now?

Back then, she was concerned about giving Iraqis “an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves.” It was a good point, and luckily, Iraq didn’t consider our presence as such an invitation. The Sunni Awakening, political reconciliation, and Maliki’s fight against the Sadrists are all clear indications that Iraqis are indeed taking care of themselves.

But we also know that they’re doing it with our help. Maliki successfully routed Mahdi militias out of Basra with the assistance of the U.S. military. That this victory directly led to the country’s largest Sunni bloc coming back into Iraq’s government is a crystalline example of how American force continues to help move Iraq toward viable statehood.

Hillary clearly has no problem contradicting her own weighty proclamations. But in flip-flopping on this one she reveals an unsettling indifference toward a struggling ally.