A quote I gave a journalist almost two years ago has been recycled, out of context, to suggest that Senator Clinton and I would contemplate going to war with Iran or other nations. This is, of course, a complete misrepresentation of what I was saying and of Senator Clinton's longstanding views. What I said was clear: first, Hillary Clinton has far more foreign policy experience than her husband did at a comparable point in his presidential campaign in 1991-92; and second, she knows how best to advance America's foreign policy goals around the world at time when America faces unprecedented challenges after seven years of the Bush administration's disastrous policies.
Senator Clinton has traveled to more than 80 countries, building relationships that will enable her to begin to restore America's global standing, beginning on Day 1 of her Presidency. Senator Clinton is a passionate believer in diplomacy, negotiations, and the value of, well, American values. She would outlaw torture and close Guantanamo. She would make us proud again of our leadership role in the world. I know from extensive personal observation that she would be a superb negotiator and diplomat. Hillary would strengthen the U.N. and make it more effective, after the Bush Administration weakened it.
Of course, there are times like in Bosnia and Rwanda, when a president must be willing to act. President Clinton should have acted earlier in those cases, as he himself has acknowledged. My point was that, having observed these tragedies closely in the 1990s and learned more as a Senator, Hillary Clinton knows how to mix diplomacy and power. She has made clear repeatedly that she believes strongly in diplomacy and that the Bush administration's failure to emphasize it has been terrible for our nation. She has called for direct talks with our adversaries, including Syria and Iran, and the sooner the better.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Clinton has traveled to both American war zones three times, spent a great deal of time meeting privately with active-duty and retired military personnel at all levels, and immersed herself in the issues that are most critical to the presidential role of Commander-in-Chief. The nation needs a new president who on taking office will withdraw our troops from Iraq responsibly and swiftly (Bush won't). Although her position has been misrepresented by some during the heat of the campaign, this is precisely what she has pledged to do. She has said she will convene the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and her national security team to draw up a safe and viable plan for the withdrawal of our solider from Iraq, with the first troops coming home within 60 days of her taking office. She has also committed herself to a new strategy in Afghanistan, the country in which failure is unthinkable yet Bush has consistently sent too few troops while proclaiming success in the face of undeniable deterioration. This is what I meant when I talked about her commanding knowledge and readiness to be our next Commander-in-Chief.
On the second point, an attempt has been made to suggest that my words in 2006 are somehow a call for action against Iran. So let me be clear: I have consistently opposed the use of force against Iran, as has Hillary. Well before the NIE, I stated publicly and repeatedly that nothing we knew supported a war against Iran. The NIE only reinforced my position. Senator Clinton also opposes any military action against Iran and said so long before the NIE, and took to the Senate floor last February to oppose the Bush administration's saber rattling.