Bill Clinton expects 'an extended involvement' in Syria, but no land war

Former President Bill Clinton believes the Obama administration's strategy against ISIS "has a chance to succeed."

Story highlights

  • Former President Bill Clinton doubts U.S. involvement in Syria will last years
  • He believes President Obama's strategy against ISIS "has a chance to succeed"
  • In the past, Clinton has sometimes been critical of Obama's Syria policy
Former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that although the conflict in Syria will mean "an extended involvement" for the United States, airstrikes in the region do not mean "a prolonged involvement in a land war."
"Yes, I think it will be going on awhile," Clinton said during an interview with CNBC's Becky Quick. "I think we will be involved in this as long as someone is trying to have total control, particularly if it is ISIS."
Later, Clinton said, "We don't need to be there on the ground and I don't think it means a land war in Iraq." His earlier comments on a land war came in the context of Syria.
A coalition of countries, including the United States, launched overnight airstrikes against the terrorist group ISIS in Syria. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar all participated in the operation, the U.S. military said.
"The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America's fight alone," President Barack Obama said on Tuesday before Clinton's comments. "Above all, the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting (ISIS) and standing up for the peace and security that the people of the region and the world deserve."
Clinton said that the conflict would not last for years and recognized that "no one expects in the world we are living in now that every threat can be eliminated."
"I think it will be an extended involvement with air power and with providing intelligence and other institutional support to the people who are fighting ISIS and trying to create a more inclusive set of governments in the Middle East," Clinton said.
The former President, who in the past has been somewhat critical of Obama's Syria policy, said Tuesday that he backed the President's airstrikes.
"I actually think in this case the President, the administration's strategy has a chance to succeed," said the former President. "But I wouldn't expect it the day after tomorrow, I think it is going to take awhile."