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Clinton: I'm ready on foreign policy; Obama 'wavers'

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  • Sen. Hillary Clinton's foreign policy speech attacks Obama, McCain
  • Clinton: "I'm ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis"
  • Obama "wavers" on foreign affairs, Clinton says
  • Obama has long rejected such complaints from Clinton
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton took on both Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain over foreign policy Monday, saying she knows best how to use diplomacy and military strength.

The New York senator also said she is "ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis."

"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security," Clinton said during a foreign policy address at George Washington University.

"We can't let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many." Video Watch Clinton deliver her foreign policy speech »

A group of high-ranking former military and defense officials who support Clinton's candidacy joined her for the address.

"The American people don't have to guess whether I understand the issues, or whether I would need a foreign policy instruction manual to guide me through a crisis, or whether I'd have to rely on advisors to introduce me to global affairs," she said.

Clinton focusing largely on her foreign policy vision of strengthening international relationships while protecting U.S. security and cited her Democratic rival and her potential Republican rival by name only toward the end of the speech.

She called McCain a friend who is "to be commended for his service" in the Vietnam War.

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"But in terms of foreign and security policy, in the calamitous wake of President Bush, Sen. McCain can't seem to budge from the Bush approach that insists on using military force when diplomacy is needed," Clinton said.

Clinton said Obama "wavers from seeming to believe that mediation and meetings without preconditions can solve some of the world's most intractable problems to advocating rash unilateral military action without cooperation from our allies in the most sensitive region of the world."

The remark was a reference to Obama's positions on meeting with the leaders of regimes hostile to the United States and his comments about unilateral military action in Pakistan.

Obama has said he would guarantee in advance to meet during his first year in office with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without preconditions.

"On the issues that have come up, that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. That is the leadership that I want to show when I'm president of the United States," he said in CNN's debate in Austin,Texas, on February 21.

Clinton argues that dictators often use presidential-level meetings for propaganda purposes, and said she would not agree to a meeting at that level until preconditions were established.

"It may sound good, but it doesn't meet the real world test of foreign policy," she said Monday of Obama's position.

Obama has also said he would take unilateral military action against sites inside Pakistan if he had "actionable intelligence" on al Qaeda positions in the country that the Pakistani military was not moving against.

Clinton has said that while the United States may need to take action in Pakistan, announcing that to the world could destabilize an already troubled government that is fighting al Qaeda.

"One thing the American people can be sure of -- I will not broadcast threats of unilateral military action against a country like Pakistan just to demonstrate that I'm tough enough for the job," she said Monday. "We have to change our tone and change our course."


Obama has long rejected such complaints from Clinton and others and cited his opposition to the Iraq war, insisting he has shown the "judgment" to lead.

But Clinton said Monday, "We need a president who knows how to deploy both the olive branch and the arrows, who will be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis, who will pursue strategic demands of hard diplomacy to re-establish our moral authority and our leadership. In this moment of peril and promise we need a president who is tested and ready." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Josh Levs contributed to this report.

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