Hillary Clinton: in her own words

We've posted audio clips from Hillary Clinton's editorial board interview. You can read the Monitor's coverage here and here.

Regarding the first clip, which was actually the final Q&A: Clinton had earlier referenced the need to isolate Islamic extremists (memo to Rudy*: That was her name for our enemy) in part by persuading their non-extremist neighbors that the United States is worth befriending. She noted, however, that doing so is especially hard if the only insight into American culture that people in Muslim countries have comes from, say, Baywatch and professional wrestling. (It was an Afghan general visiting Fort Drum, N.Y., who told Clinton this was the case!)

Certainly what has transpired in Iraq (or, more to the point, the perception of events there) can now be counted among the things most Muslims think they know about the United States. So we asked Clinton: What will the next American president have to say to the rest of the world about Iraq while trying to make the case that we're the good guys?

Her answer begins: "I think we'll have to not only talk about Iraq, we'll have to talk about Abu Ghraib, we'll have to talk about Guantanamo. And I think we have to start by acknowledging that the United States has made life very difficult for people inside Iraq and in the region. . . ."

Those who have been hung up on Clinton's refusal to apologize for her vote to authorize President Bush to use military force in Iraq -- she often says instead that she takes responsibility for her vote -- may hear a pregnant pause after the phrase "the United States has made . . ." Clinton did not say that the next president should apologize for the invasion of Iraq. (You could say, though, that she made clear the United States will have to take responsibility for the invasion.)

*Regarding Rudy: He might have begun his answer by saying: We should remind the world what a service our military did by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. And John McCain, the candidate most associated with support of the mission in Iraq, might have made the point about Saddam and made the point about taking responsibility for the mess that followed his overthrow.