One day after the terrorist bombings in Brussels, Belgium, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laid out her foreign policy strategy to defeat terrorist groups, which she said would rely on collaboration with allies worldwide.
Clinton made the hastily scheduled, 25-minute speech at Stanford University's Bechtel Conference Center on Wednesday morning, March 23, before more than 135 invited guests and members of the media. Former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who are fellows with the Stanford's Hoover Institution, sat in the front row.
Former Secretary of State Clinton gave nods to Shultz and Perry and did not mince words regarding the anti-Muslim statements of Republican presidential opponents Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
She outlined a strategy that would expand military, security and political alliances globally, reinforce the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), partner with technology businesses and nations to strengthen cybersecurity and intelligence operations, and define and invest in communities that are hotbeds of jihadis to counter their influence.
In somber, measured tones, Clinton described the global threat of the Islamic State, or ISIS, mentioning not only the widely publicized attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels, but also incidents in Istanbul, West Africa, Tunisia and Lebanon and on a Russian passenger jet.
"Walls will not protect us from this threat. We cannot contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS. This will be one of the most important challenges facing the next president, who takes office on Jan. 20," she said. "Our new commander-in-chief will walk into the Oval Office and find a world of hard choices and complex problems.
"That president will sit down at the desk and start making decisions that will affect the lives and livelihoods of every American and people around the world. So the stakes could not be higher."
The country and world "face an adversary that is constantly adapting and operating across multiple theaters. So our response must be just as nimble and far reaching," she said.
"We need to rely on what actually works, not bluster that alienates our partners and doesn't make us any safer," Clinton added.
Clinton said she supports expanding the coalition and intensifying airstrikes to take out ISIS and extremist strongholds in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. should step up support for local Arab and Kurdish forces on the front and coalition efforts to protect civilians, she said. Clinton also said she supports diplomacy to end Syria's civil war and Iraq's sectarian violence.
There must be a worldwide effort to dismantle networks that supply money, arms, propaganda and fighters, which could mean going after "key enablers," including in Afghanistan and Libya, Clinton said.
Domestically, she would counter each step that could lead to an attack and work to disrupt plots using technology, she said.
Clinton appeared to take a harder line in terms of decoding encryption on mobile and other devices, despite security and civil liberties concerns. But she also said that any solution must involve a partnership between business and the government.
"Impenetrable encryption provides significant cybersecurity advantages but may also make it harder for law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals to investigate plots and prevent future attacks. ISIS knows this, too. At the same time, there are legitimate worries about privacy, network security and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors, including terrorists, can exploit," she said.
"There may be no quick, magic fix. In the Apple case, the FBI may have found a work-around. But there will be future cases with different facts and different challenges. So the tech community and the government have to stop seeing each other as adversaries and start working together to protect our safety and our privacy."
She supports a national coalition on encryption, such as one that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Mike McCaul are proposing, she said.
Clinton gave kudos to the work of her predecessors, Shultz, who served under President Ronald Reagan, and Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton. Of Shultz, she said that he knew the importance of building alliances. She lauded Perry for his expansion of NATO, which she called "one of the best investments America has ever made."
"Turning our back on our alliances, turning our alliances into a protection racket, would reverse decades of American bipartisan leadership and send a dangerous signal to friend and foe alike," Clinton said. "(Vladimir) Putin already hopes to divide Europe. If Mr. Trump gets his way, it'll be like Christmas in the Kremlin. It will make America less safe and the world more dangerous. ... And as we saw when a terrorist cell in Hamburg carried out the 9/11 attacks, what happens in Europe has a way of making it to America."
Clinton said that if she becomes president, the U.S. will not condone torture by the U.S. anywhere in the world. And it would be a serious mistake to stumble into another costly ground war in the Middle East.
"If we've learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan, it's that people and nations have to secure their own communities. We can, and I argue we must, support them, but we can't substitute for them. It would also be a serious mistake to begin carpet-bombing populated areas into oblivion. Proposing that doesn't make you sound tough; it makes you sound like you're in over your head. Slogans aren't strategy; loose cannons tend to misfire," she said, in another jab at Trump.
Clinton said she would accept refugees fleeing Syria. The U.S. should not abandon its values and humanitarian obligations, "but we also have to be smart and vigilant about how we process people into our country," she said.
"It would be doubly cruel if ISIS can not only force people out of their homes but also prevent them from ever finding new ones," she said.
Of both Cruz and Trump, Clinton said, "One thing we know that does not work is offensive, inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes all Muslims. There are millions of peace-loving Muslims living, working, raising families and paying taxes in this country. These Americans are a crucial line of defense against terrorism. They are the most likely to recognize the warning signs of radicalization before it's too late and the best position to block it."
Clinton was attending fundraising events in the Bay Area and attended one in Atherton later Wednesday. She made the additional stop at Stanford after learning of the Brussels attacks. Her staff approached Stanford about making the speech, said Chaney Kourouniotis, communications manager at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She added that Stanford sees its role as a facilitator of discussion and ideas.
"We welcome a host of leaders to engage in this kind of dialogue. We are interested in welcoming other presidential candidates," Kourouniotis added.
The audience was composed of students, educators and friends of Clinton.
Stanford sophomore David Lim, a symbolic systems major, said he thinks Clinton "has the ability to be a great president." But he does have a few reservations about her. He has doubts about the strength of her cybersecurity positions and collaboration between the government and tech companies.
"I want it to translate to strong policy," he said.
On foreign policy, Clinton lived up to her reputation as a policy wonk, Lim said. But he was still a little uncomfortable with what he viewed as her "hawkishness."
Lim said that he will vote for Bernie Sanders during the June primary, but if, as he expects, Clinton clinches the nomination as the Democratic candidate, he will vote for her in November.
Many millennials find Sanders to be in line with their values and concerns, such as income and inequality, Lim added.
Ben Gardner-Gill, a freshman who is considering a political science or history major, said he will also vote for Sanders in the primary. Clinton has not taken a strong stance on political campaign reform in the way Sanders forthrightly has, he said.
"I do think she is not very concerned with campaign-finance reform and the influence of Wall Street on American politics," he said.
But if Clinton becomes the nominee, he will throw his full support behind her, even campaigning for her, he said.
"America needs strong, steady, intelligent leadership. Hillary will provide this country with good leadership for the next four to eight years," Gardner-Gill said.
To watch the speech, click here.