One of the interesting aspects of Hillary Clinton’s expression of opposition this morning to the idea of sending more troops to Iraq was that she appeared to have made the statement conditional.
“I am not in favor of doing that unless it’s part of a larger plan,” she said.
So, what might that larger plan look like?
For starters, Clinton believes that any military decisions must be made within the framework of a larger political solution that includes talking to Iraq’s neighbors and getting them to take a greater stake in Iraq’s stability.
She has signed on to the idea that a phased redeployment of American troops is the best way to pressure Iraqi leaders into taking that greater responsibility, though she has been much more cautious about setting timelines than many of her colleagues in congress.
There is another school of thought that believes that setting timelines to take the troops off the table essentially deprives the United States of leverage to bring about a political solution. Troop redeployments, withdrawals and even surges should be used as rewards for meeting specific benchmarks, according to that idea, sometimes called “conditional commitment.”
Could Clinton’s “larger plan” condition signify an openness to that idea?