Politics & Policy

Clinton Refuses to Say the U.S. Is at War with Radical Islam

Hillary Clinton speaks during the Democratic presidential debate on November 14, 2015 (CBS News)

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton refused to say the United States is at war with “radical Islam” during the Democratic debate Saturday night, explaining that she didn’t want to paint “with too broad a brush” after Friday night’s massacre in Paris by Islamic terrorists left at least 129 dead.

Clinton was joined onstage at Iowa’s Drake University on Saturday by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. Though the candidates had hoped to focus on issues such as climate change and income inequality, Friday night’s bloody rampage through Paris by Islamic terrorists shifted the debate’s opening segment to an in-depth discussion on national security.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio called the Paris attack evidence that the Western world is at war with radical Islam — a characterization CBS’s John Dickerson asked Clinton to respond to.

“I don’t think we’re at war with Islam,” Clinton said. “I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists.”

“He didn’t say all Muslims, he just said ‘radical Islam,’” Dickerson said. “Is that a phrase you don’t . . . ?”

‘We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression.’

“I think you can talk about Islamists who are clearly also jihadists,” Clinton said. “But I think it’s, it’s not particularly helpful — to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making, that I agree with, that we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries, we’ve got to have them be part of our coalition — if they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam.

“We are at war with violent extremism,” she said. “We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And yes, we are at war with these people. But I don’t want to be painting with too broad a brush.”

Clinton was also confronted with remarks she made last year at Georgetown University, where she said American leaders should try to empathize with their enemies. “Can you explain what that means in the context of this kind of barbarism?”

#share#“I think with this kind of barbarism and nihilism, it’s very difficult to understand,” Clinton admitted. “That’s very difficult to put ourselves in their shoes.”

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