Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton asserted on Thursday that Muslims are "peaceful and tolerant people" and have "nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism."
In a speech given at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, the former Secretary of State and First Lady discussed how she feels the United States should be doing more to combat the Islamic State terrorist organization. She also criticized Republicans who often claim "radical Islamic terrorism" is America's biggest threat.
"The bottom line is that we are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win. Let's be clear, though. Islam is not our adversary," Clinton argued. "Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization or repeating the specific words, 'radical Islamic terrorism' isn't just a distraction."
"It gives these criminals, these murderers, more standing than they deserve," she continued. "It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side. Our priority should be how to fight the enemy."
She also tweeted the message:
Although Clinton claimed that Muslims are not America's enemy, she still admitted the fact that most extremist violence throughout the world today is perpetrated by radicalized Muslims.
"In the end it didn't matter what kind of terrorist we called Bin Laden, it mattered that we killed Bin Laden. But we still can't close our eyes to the fact that there is a distorted and dangerous stream of extremism within the Muslim world that continues to spread," Clinton stated. "Its adherents are relatively few in number but capable of causing profound damage, most especially to their communities throughout arc of instability that stretches from north and West Africa to Asia. Overlapping conflicts collapsing state structures, widespread corruption, poverty and repression have created openings for extremists to exploit."
In addressing her stance on what should be done to defeat the IS terrorist organization, which killed at least 129 people and injured over 350 others in an attack on Paris last Friday, Clinton differed from President Barack Obama in that she is calling for a no-fly zone over Syria. She also reasoned that defeating IS will require more than just airstrikes.
She argued that the U.S. needs to "intensify and broaden" its campaign to destroy IS. She insisted that forces on the ground are necessary to push IS out of its strongholds.
"A more effective air campaign is necessary, but not sufficient," Clinton explained. "We should be honest that to be successful, airstrikes will have to be combined with ground forces."
Although she is calling for ground forces, Clinton clarified that she does not believe the United States should be involved in a full-scale combat mission but should be willing to deploy more special operations forces and allow them to engage in combat alongside Iraqi forces.
"If we have learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's that local people and nations have to secure their own communities," Clinton said.
She added that the U.S. should be more focused on defeating IS, rather than toppling the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
While a few Republican candidates have argued that the Syrian refugees should not be allowed to resettle inside the U.S., Clinton said she approves of Obama's plan to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees in the next year.
"We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values," she said. "Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee, that is just not who we are. We are better than that."