Hillary Clinton disputed Jeb Bush’s claim that the Obama administration’s foreign policy decisions caused the growth of the Islamic State, or ISIS, continuing a foreign policy blame game between the two campaigns.
“I find it somewhat curious that Jeb Bush is doubling down on defending his brother’s actions in Iraq,” she told reporters on Saturday. “But if he’s going to do that, he should present the entire picture.”
The Democratic presidential front-runner, speaking at the Iowa State Fair, was responding to Bush’s assertion that President Barack Obama withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 was the “fatal error” that enabled ISIS to become a major threat in the Middle East.
Bush, a GOP presidential hopeful, made the accusation during a foreign policy address on Tuesday. Clinton’s campaign said Bush’s claim was "a pretty bold attempt to rewrite history and reassign responsibility."
Clinton on Saturday reprimanded Bush and reminded him that his brother, former President George W. Bush, established the date of the troop withdrawal and that Obama, with her as secretary of state, honored that date because then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected a U.S. agreement to retain a few thousand troops for training purposes.
“The entire picture includes the agreement George W. Bush made with the Maliki government in Iraq that set the end of 2011 as the date to withdraw American troops,” she said. “I can only wonder whether he either did not know that or thought that other people would not be reminded of that.”
“So for him to make whatever case he wishes on behalf of his own campaign,” Clinton continued, “there is clearly a very direct line between the agreement George W. Bush signed and the efforts that the Obama administration made, of which I was a part, to persuade the Maliki government to admit continued American support for the Iraqi army.”
Bush also used his Tuesday speech to unveil his own foreign policy agenda, pledging to establish more airstrikes, joint U.S.-Iraqi military training and the creation of an international force in Syria, and hinting at the possibility of more U.S. ground troops in Iraq. In advocating for a stronger military presence in the region, he praised his brother’s troop surge during the Iraq War as a model for effective military intervention.
Clinton on Saturday argued instead that the Iraqis must spearhead the military campaign, but called for more international efforts to protect persecuted women amid recent revelations that ISIS fighters have systematically raped women and girls.
“This has to be an Iraqi-led mission,” she said. “Like anybody who has followed the horrific, barbaric behavior by ISIS, I am very committed to supporting the efforts within the region to try to take on the threats they pose to everyone, but particularly to women and especially women of certain religious backgrounds.”