Second Presidential Debate Highlights Candidates’ Opposing Views on Mideast
JNS.org – In the second US presidential debate Sunday evening, both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continued to disagree on how to handle the Middle East.
While the highly anticipated debate was mostly focused on domestic policy, Trump’s controversial comments on women and the past infidelities of Bill Clinton, when it came to foreign policy, both Trump and Clinton specifically discussed the Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State (ISIS) and Russian involvement.
On Syria and Iraq, Trump argued that the US should focus on targeting the Islamic State and not going after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or his Russian backers, who have been accused of war crimes in their siege of rebel forces in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
“We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved,” Trump said. “I don’t like Assad at all. But Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS.”
Notably, Trump also disagreed with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has said that Russian actions in Syria should be met with “American strength,” and the US should be prepared to launch airstrikes against the Assad government.
Over the last few months, Clinton has criticized Trump for potentially having business ties with Russia and for his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Additionally, many Western governments, including the US, have slammed Russia for supporting Assad and conducting air strikes against Syrian rebels.
For her part, Clinton said she “would not use American ground forces in Syria” and that it would be a “serious mistake” for troops to attempt to hold territory there. However, she believes the US should create a no-fly zone in Syria and said that she would prioritize targeting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“I hope that by the time I am president, we will have pushed ISIS out of Iraq,” she said. “I do think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul.”