Clinton Attacked Over Iraq War in Democratic Debate

Clinton Attacked Over Iraq War in Democratic DebateClinton Attacked Over Iraq War in Democratic Debate

US Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton played defense over her 2003 vote backing the US invasion of Iraq and inched away from President Barack Obama on Syria and the rise of Islamic State militants during a contentious debate on Saturday.

Clinton’s rivals for the White House, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, took a more aggressive tone than in their first debate last month. They accused Clinton of being too cozy with Wall Street and taking campaign donations that made her unwilling to stand up to corporate interests, AFP reported.

The day after a series of bomb and gun attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, Sanders linked Clinton’s US Senate vote authorizing the Iraq invasion to the regional chaos that followed. Sanders called it “one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of the United States.”

“I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, unraveled the region immensely, and led to the rise of Al-Qaeda and IS,” said Sanders, a US senator from Vermont.

“I don’t think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now,” he said.

Clinton, who has frequently called the Iraq vote a mistake, said it should be placed in the historical context of years of terrorism before the invasion.

“This is an incredibly complicated region of the world. It’s become more complicated. And many of the fights that are going on are not ones that the United States has either started or have a role in,” she said. Clinton struck a sharp contrast to Obama’s comments in an interview aired on Friday that IS had been contained, saying it “cannot be contained, it must be defeated.”

The former secretary of state drew another contrast with Obama on Syrian refugees, saying she urged the administration to increase its plan to accept 10,000 refugees in fiscal 2016. Republican presidential contenders have criticized Obama for what they say was an inadequate response to the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, and called on the administration to reconsider plans to allow thousands of Syrian refugees to be resettled in the US.

Clinton has always been from the more hawkish wing of the Democratic Party. Her support for the 2003 Iraq invasion played a major role in her primary loss to Obama in the 2008 White House race.