Sen. Clinton Can't Pledge Troop Withdrawal

"We don't know what we're going to inherit," she tells "This Week."

Sept. 23, 2007 — -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said this morning that she will not make any pledges regarding a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

"We don't know what we're going to inherit," she said on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "None of us do. We don't know what's going to be done in the last 15 months of the Bush-Cheney administration."

But Clinton reiterated her desire for an immediate troop withdrawal.

"I hope it happens in the next 15 months -- but if it doesn't, it will happen immediately upon my becoming president," she said.

The senator called for limited missions to remain in place but declined to estimate remaining troop levels.

"Clearly, withdrawing is dangerous," she said. "It has to be done responsibly, prudently, carefully, but we have said that there will be a likely continuing mission against al Qaeda in Iraq. ... So I think that there are some limited missions, but the numbers we're talking about are very much smaller than what we have there, and … the missions would be better defined."

Despite her determination to bring American troops home, Clinton said it was inappropriate to speculate as to how many troops would remain in Iraq, but said that previous estimates of 40,000 to 75,000 troops were inaccurate.

"The problems we're going to face because of the failed policies and the poor decision-making of this administration are rather extraordinary and difficult and I don't want to speculate about how we're going to be approaching it until I actually have the facts in my hand and the authority to be able to make some decisions," Clinton said.

In looking forward to resolving the war, Clinton called for a restoration of America's diplomatic relationships.

"We've got to get back to doing what America historically has done very well -- leading with our values, as well as our strength," she said. "I think we can be both strong and smart, and I know we've got a lot of repair work to do around the world. We have, unfortunately, set so many people against us that we need now to be working with us."

When asked whether she would adopt the "Bush doctrine" espousing that "you're either with us or against us," Clinton said, "It's hard to separate an alleged doctrine from its implementation. Unfortunately, in my view, the president has alienated both our friends and emboldened our enemies."

The senator also fielded questions on her vote for the Iraq war resolution, which she insists was not intended as a vote for war. While she has said her vote was intended to show support for the United Nations, Clinton did not support an alternative resolution put forth by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., which would have required the president to turn first to the United Nations.

"I think that there has to be a delicate balance here," Clinton said. "I don't believe we should give veto power to the United Nations or any international group, although I certainly favor being involved in and working with and building up international forces and groups. Well, that is how I assessed it at the time and, you know, we had a disagreement at the time. I've said on many occasions I made a sincere decision based on my best assessment of the evidence at the time."

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