Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, delivered a foreign policy speech at Stanford in which she urged greater U.S. leadership and solidarity with allies in Europe and elsewhere in the global fight against terrorism. (Photo: Aaron Kehoe)
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said this week’s attacks in Belgium were a "brutal reminder" that the United States and its allies must work even more closely in their counterterrorism efforts: "We cannot contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS."
By Clifton B. Parker
Hillary Clinton spoke today at Stanford and urged greater U.S. leadership and solidarity with allies in Europe and elsewhere in the global fight against terrorism.
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, delivered a foreign policy speech in Encina Hall to a standing-room-only crowd of students, faculty, staff, press and community members. She gave her talk the day after three explosions killed and injured scores of people in Brussels, Belgium. The Islamic State group later took credit for the deadly attacks.
Clinton said that Stanford has become a center for national security scholarship. She was introduced by Michael McFaul , director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and former U.S. ambassador to Russia for the Obama administration.
McFaul emphasized that FSI is a nonpartisan, interdisciplinary institute dedicated to research and education. He said that FSI is committed to "expanding the dialogue" on this issue and looks forward to hosting other possible policy addresses by presidential candidates on such topics.
Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, graduated from Stanford in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
"I’ll never forget the first day we brought Chelsea here. It’s a great treat to be back," Clinton said.
Clinton said, "The threat we face from terrorism is real, it’s urgent and it knows no boundaries." The attacks in Belgium were a "brutal reminder" that the global fight against the Islamic State group and radical jihadists is far from finished, she added.
A former U.S. secretary of state for the Obama administration, Clinton laid out a three-point plan to thwart terrorism:
First, the West must realize it faces a constantly adapting adversary that is operating across the globe. Second, it is vital for the United States and its allies, especially in Europe, to strengthen their partnerships and efforts at stopping terrorism. Third, the most effective approach focuses on what actually works in the fight against terrorism – and that does not include "blustery" and unrealistic rhetoric, she said.
The stakes could not be higher, Clinton said. The Islamic State group is attempting genocide of religious and ethnic minorities, is enslaving and killing innocent people and is committing widespread rape and violence against women and girls.
"We cannot contain ISIS," she said, "we must defeat ISIS."
She advocated eliminating the group’s strongholds through an intensified air campaign accompanied by stronger and better-equipped Arab and Kurdish forces while pursing a diplomatic strategy to wind down the civil war in Syria.
Clinton said it is imperative to dismantle the global financial and support network for terrorists, and confront its key enablers and extremists, even online.
At home, the United States must harden its own security systems and build up its resilience while disrupting plots before they arise.
"Our enemies are constantly adapting, so we need to do the same," said Clinton, calling for an "intelligence surge" for both the United States and its allies against terrorist forces. Staying ahead of threats in the world of technology is also critical.
In talking about borders and walls, she noted that even the highest wall cannot keep out the Internet.
Clinton suggested striking a balance between civil liberties and security concerns in the area of encryption.
"There are legitimate worries about privacy," she said, adding that the tech community and the government must stop seeing each other as adversaries and start working together.
"We can’t let fear stop us from doing what’s necessary to keep us safe," said Clinton, who is also a former U.S. senator from New York who served during 9/11.
She warned against another costly ground war in the Middle East and the idea of "carpet-bombing" enemies into oblivion.
"Slogans aren’t a strategy, and loose cannons tend to misfire," she said.
Allies, financing, refugees
Strengthening America’s alliances in Europe was a key theme in Clinton’s policy address. "We cherish the same values and face the same adversaries," she said.
She said George Shultz showed during his diplomatic career how the cultivation of international allies and partners ultimately pays off for America’s interests. Shultz was in attendance for Clinton’s talk.
"You reap the rewards from the time put in," said Clinton about Shultz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and former U.S. secretary of state.
NATO is one of the best investments this country has ever made, she said, noting that William Perry , a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and at the Hoover Institution and also in attendance, astutely supported that organization while he served as the U.S. secretary of defense in the 1990s. NATO is dedicated to the defense of Western Europe.
Clinton urged European banks to cut off the funds that flow to terrorism, and suggested that European countries get even more involved in anti-terrorism efforts in intelligence and security than they are now. The back-and-forth movement of terrorist recruits between the Middle East and Europe must also be ended.
"Stemming this tide will require much better coordination among every country involved," Clinton said. One problem is that the European Union keeps delaying a vote to share traveler information between member states, she added.
The Syrian refugee crisis is "heartbreaking," and the United States must keep its doors open to its fair share of refugees. "But we have to be smart and vigilant about how we process people into our country."
Clinton criticized inflammatory rhetoric that "demonizes" Muslims and makes it harder for moderate Muslims to cooperate with security and police forces. And, she added, torturing terrorist suspects does not work.
"Experts attest to this fact, and it puts our troops and civilians at greater risk," she said.
Only the United States can mobilize "common action on a global scale," Clinton said. "America is a great nation."