Sen. Clinton: Bush Troop Plan Won't Help Iraq

Sen. Hillary Clinton meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. i i

Sen. Hillary Clinton (left) meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (right) in Baghdad, Jan. 13, 2007. Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Hillary Clinton meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (left) meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (right) in Baghdad, Jan. 13, 2007.

Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) says Iraq isn't doing enough to secure itself, and that sending more U.S. troops won't help. Clinton just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, where she met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"I was listening for a level of commitment to securing Iraq by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi army and police force that has been missing, and I didn't hear that," Clinton says in an interview with Steve Inskeep.

"I don't see where our putting in more American troops is likely to bring that about. So what I came away with... is a very strong opposition to [President Bush's] plan for escalation."

Instead, Clinton says, "I would like to see us cap the number of American troops in Iraq at the level that we had as of Jan. 1, and to begin to deploy them out of Baghdad and eventually out of Iraq."

U.S. Aid Must Be Conditional

Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a potential presidential candidate, says the United States must use its leverage and set conditions on the Iraqi government before giving further assistance.

"I believe we have to tell them that we're not going to continue to fund their army and security for their leadership and reconstruction for their country unless they take steps necessary to have the political solutions that everyone knows have to be reached," Clinton said. Those include disarming militias and dealing with the problems that are causing the Sunni insurgency, she says.

Clinton says cutting off funding for U.S. troops is "not appropriate at this time, until we get more of our troops out of harm's way." She acknowledges that President Bush has the money to increase U.S. troop levels, and Congress can't stop him.

"But I do think we should be saying that we're not going to fund this Iraqi government and their army in the absence of their taking the political steps."

Clinton on Her Potential Presidential Candidacy

Clinton was also asked about Sen. Barack Obama's announcement Tuesday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. She declined to say whether the Illinois Democrat's move would affect the timing of her decision on whether to step into the 2008 presidential race.

"You know, I am not influenced by anybody else's timeline," she says. "I'm trying to just pursue my own analysis and assessment.... There's a lot involved in doing this effectively, and I'll be looking forward to talking to you about it in the future."

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