Dealing with the Islamic State: what Hillary says

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Daesh Libya
An Islamic State mass execution in post-intervention Libya. Photo by criminals.

What Hillary Clinton says about dealing with the Islamic State

excerpts from her speech to the Council on Foreign Relations

To impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran, to stop a dictator from slaughtering his people in Libya, to support a fledgling democracy in Afghanistan, we have to use every pillar of American power — military, and diplomacy; development, and economic, and cultural influence; technology, and, maybe most importantly, our values. That is smart power.

An immediate war against an urgent enemy and a generational struggle against an ideology with deep roots will not be easily torn out. It will require sustained commitment in every pillar of American power. This is a worldwide fight, and America must lead it.

So we need an immediate intelligence surge in the region, including technical assets, Arabic speakers with deep expertise in the Middle East, an even closer partnership with regional intelligence services.

we need to lay the foundation for a second “Sunni awakening.” We need to put sustained pressure on the government in Baghdad to gets its political house in order, move forward with national reconciliation, and finally, stand up a national guard. Baghdad needs to accept, even embrace, arming Sunni and Kurdish forces in the war against ISIS. But if Baghdad won’t do that, the coalition should do so directly.

We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air.

Now, much of this strategy on both sides of the border hinges on the roles of our Arab and Turkish partners

The United States should also work with our Arab partners to get them more invested in the fight against ISIS. At the moment they’re focused in other areas because of their concerns in the region, especially the threat from Iran. That’s why the Saudis, for example, shifted attention from Syria to Yemen. So we have to work out a common approach.

In September I laid out a comprehensive plan to counter Iranian influence across the region and its support for terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas. We cannot view Iran and ISIS as separate challenges.

And as we work out a broader regional approach, we should of course be closely consulting with Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East. Israel increasingly shares with our Arab partners and has the opportunity to do more in intelligence and joint efforts as well.

And, once and for all, the Saudis, the Qataris, and others need to stop their citizens from directly funding extremist organizations, as well as the schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path to radicalization.

Overlapping conflicts, collapsing state structures, widespread corruption, poverty, and repression have created openings for extremists to exploit. Before the Arab spring, I warned that the region’s foundations would sink into the sand without immediate reforms. Well, the need has only grown more urgent.

We have to join with our partners to do the patient, steady work of empowering moderates and marginalizing extremists, supporting democratic institutions and the rule of law, creating economic growth that supports stability, working to curb corruption, helping train effective and accountable law enforcement, intelligence, and counterterrorism services.

This is a time for American leadership. No other country can rally the world to defeat ISIS and win the generational struggle against radical jihadism. Only the United States can mobilize common action on a global scale. And that’s exactly what we need. The entire world must be part of this fight, but we must lead it.

To impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran, to stop a dictator from slaughtering his people in Libya, to support a fledgling democracy in Afghanistan, we have to use every pillar of American power — military, and diplomacy; development, and economic, and cultural influence; technology, and, maybe most importantly, our values. That is smart power.

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