Hillary Clinton: I wouldn't send ground troops into Iraq

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacts to a question as she discusses her new book "Hard Choices: A Memoir" at George Washington University in Washington June 13, 2014.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

After years of explaining away her 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview Tuesday in no uncertain terms that she would "absolutely not" send ground troops there now to fight the extremists who have captured several cities.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Clinton said that she wouldn't even necessarily back airstrikes, one of the options under consideration to help restore stability.

"I would not support any action unless there was a very clear understanding of what [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki would or wouldn't do, who was running the army and what third parties were going to be involved," Clinton said.

She would not say that Maliki, who many people have blamed for governing in a way that led to the onslaught of sectarian violence, since he and his party were recently re-elected to a third term., but also said he needs to change his ways if he wants U.S. support.

"I have made clear that I would not support any effort by the United States to back up his government unless the conditions that we have been asking for for a number of years were finally met," Clinton said.

The interview was part of Clinton's book tour for her new memoir, "Hard Choices." In the book, she writes that, "I was wrong" to vote in favor of the war in Iraq. During an event in Toronto, she said she avoided calling the vote on the war a mistake for so long because "I felt like I couldn't' break faith" with the troops who were there.

"I didn't want there to be any feeling that I was backing off or undercutting my support for this very difficult mission in Iraq," she said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for