Hillary Clinton calls for increase in US air strikes against ISIS

In a speech Thursday at New York's Council on Foreign Relations, the Democratic presidential frontrunner said the US needs to provide more military support to groups fighting the Islamic State.

Seth Wenig/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Clinton and Bernie Sanders are outlining the steps on Thursday they would take to combat the Islamic State group, each making major speeches less than a week after the deadly attacks in Paris.

Hillary Clinton has shifted her focus regarding Syria: she is now urging Congress to pass a bill approving stronger military action against the Islamic State (IS).

“The time for delay is over. We should get this done,” Mrs. Clinton said in a detailed speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday. “Every society faces a choice between fear and resolve.”

Clinton’s proposal still doesn’t include combat boots on the ground, as some Republican presidential nominees have proposed. But it does call for the mobilization of the US military in broader air strikes in Syria. She asked for more “flexibility" for US Special Operations forces to work alongside the Sunnis and Kurds to oppose IS, and would like President Obama to consider sending in more troops.

The former secretary of state added that the US needed to put more pressure on Iraq’s predominantly Shia government, and to stop Saudi Arabia and Qatar from allowing their citizens to directly fund extremist organizations. 

Clinton is the first Democratic presidential candidate to propose an increased US military effort against IS. Other Democratic nominees have been hesitant to stray from what President Obama is already doing in Syria.

“This is no time to be scoring political points. We must use every pillar of American power, including our values, to fight terror,” Clinton said.

The speech is the second major foreign policy speech delivered by Clinton in a campaign otherwise dominated by economic debate. In September, she was engaged in a significant foreign policy debate at the Brookings Institution in Washington, endorsing the Iran nuclear deal.

President Obama has been criticized for doing little to change US policy in Syria following the attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to France to show solidarity and assess the situation there.

“Let me make this clear: we don’t have any illusions about how complicated this is,” Secretary Kerry told the Overseas Security Advisory Council in Washington on Wednesday. “Most people don’t think that another invasion by Americans in yet another Muslim country in which the local citizens are not prepared to fight back and hold the land that you then gain makes a lot of sense, which is why our strategy – and there is a strategy and it is clear and it’s working, not as fast as anybody would like, but working.” 

French President François Hollande will be in Washington next week for what has become a highly anticipated meeting with President Obama to discuss their efforts to combat Islamic State.

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