Jeb Bush on War & Peace
Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect
To seriously challenge for the presidency, a Republican will have to pointedly distance himself from Jeb's older brother: acknowledging that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. No Republican will be able to promise foreign-policy competence unless he or she acknowledges the Bush administration's disastrous mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It won't be enough for a candidate merely to keep his or her distance from W: Romney tried that and failed. To seriously compete, the next Republican candidate for president will have to repudiate key aspects of Bush's legacy. Jeb Bush would find that excruciatingly hard even if he wanted to. And as his interviews Sunday make clear, he doesn't event want to try.
We must acknowledge the great debt we owe patriots like [our lost soldiers]. We should honor their service by ensuring that our actions, both in and out of this chamber, are worthy of their sacrifice. We must serve this state as honorably and effectively as they serve this country. I believe we are on the right path.
BUSH: The lack of leadership in this country by Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, thinking that the policy of containment with ISIS works. It's a complete disaster. They're not attempting to take out ISIS. They're attacking the troops that we're supporting. We need to create a Sunni-led coalition on the ground with our special operators to destroy ISIS. You can't do that with Assad in power.
BUSH: I would say a no-fly zone, creating safe zones in Syria, directly arming the Kurds in Iraq, reengaging both politically and militarily with the Sunnis - the Sunni tribal leaders who were effective partners in the creation of the surge. Have our troops be embedded with the Iraqi military. But, basically, all of this needs to be a strategy, not just one-off kind of incremental decisions being made by this president who wants to run out the clock. The strategy ought to be, how do we destroy ISIS and how do we create stability in the aftermath? And, right now, we have neither.
BUSH: I think it is wrong. I think that had we kept a small force in Iraq, we wouldn't have the mess that we have right now.
Q: You want troops to go in, but then everybody agrees there need to be some kind of stability afterwards. If 10,000 was a good sustaining force in Iraq after all the activities, but this is a totally new adventure, it would seem that upwards of 10,000 troops would be necessary for the kind of engagement you're talking about.
BUSH: If I'm commander in chief, my first order is, give me options, and if the military says that we need a fighting force of X- thousand, and this is the best way to destroy ISIS, then I would take that under advisement for sure.
BUSH: No, I think we need to do both. We should declare war and harness all of the power that the United States can bring to bear both diplomatic and military, of course, to be able to take out ISIS. We need to declare a no-fly zone over Syria. Directly arm the Peshmerga forces in Iraq. Build up the Syrian Free Army. Re-engage with the Sunni tribal leaders. Embed with the Iraqi military. Be able to create safe zones in Syria. Garner the support of our European allies and the traditional Arab states. This a threat to Western civilization and we should consider it that way.
BUSH: You take it to them in Syria & Iraq. You destroy ISIS. And then you build a coalition to replace this radical Islamic terrorist threat to our country & to Europe & to the region with something that is more peace loving. We have to be engaged. This is not something you can contain. Each day that ISIS exists, it gains new energy and more recruits around the world.
BUSH: I think the president should convene the North American Council to discuss that. And I do think that it's worthy of consideration, for sure. If that's what the French want, as our longest and strongest and most loyal ally over our entire history, we should certainly consider it. Our hearts go out to the people of Paris and to France. This is the second time they have had an atrocious act of terror in their country. We need to show complete solidarity with them.˙
BUSH: I tell the American public that a caliphate the size of Indiana garners strength each and every day if it's not taken out. 30,000 to 40,000 battle-tested soldiers that are organized to destroy our way of life. We have to be in this fight. There is no other option. And this threat can be contained, but more importantly, it'll never die unless it's destroyed. The policy of containment isn't going to work.
BUSH: Let ISIS take out Assad, and then Putin will take out ISIS? That's not how the real world works. We have to lead, we have to be involved. We should have a no fly zone in Syria. They are barrel bombing the innocents in that country. If you're a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq, or Syria, you're going to be beheaded. And, if you're a moderate Islamist, you're not going to be able to survive either. We have to play a role in this be able to bring the rest of the world to this issue before it's too late.
TRUMP: Assad is a bad guy, but we have no idea who the so-called rebels--nobody even knows who they are.
Carly FIORINA: Governor Bush is correct. We must have a no fly zone in Syria because Russia cannot tell the United States of America where and when to fly our planes.
BUSH: I wouldn't have gone in; however, for the people that did lose their lives, and the families that suffer because of it--I know this full well because as governor of the state of Florida, I called every one of them. Every one of them that I could find to tell them that I was praying for them, that I cared about them, this: To honor the people that died, we need to stop the Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands, and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal.
BUSH: Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when we invaded, it was a mistake. When Obama became president, he abandoned Iraq. When he left Al Qaida was done for. ISIS was created because of the void that we left, and that void now exists as a caliphate the size of Indiana.
The future success of American foreign policy in the Middle East-- and the world--will require a fresh approach. One that takes to heart the realities of the region. One that rebuilds the friendships we once enjoyed. One that reminds our enemies of our determination.
The former Florida governor called non-state terrorist groups such as the Islamic State "perhaps the greatest security threat that we now face for our own homeland."
He added, "Taking them out is the strategy."
Over the course of his brother's presidency, Bush frequently expressed support for the war. As the Iraq conflict began in 2003, he [said of his brother] "in his heart, I know he is doing what he thinks is right, and I concur with him." He visited Iraq with other Republican governors in April 2006 to visit US troops. Nearing the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, Bush said that "history will be kind to my brother, the further out you get from this and the more people compare his tenure to what's going on now."
Bush was referring to Obama's declaration in August 2012 that Syria's use of chemical weapons would cross "a red line for us," necessitating US military intervention. Obama reneged on that commitment following Syria's apparent actual use of such weapons a year later, claiming "I didn't set a red line; the world set a red line."
"Presidents need to accept responsibility for their language," Bush said. "The problem in America today is that our friends have no clue where we will be, and so they change their behavior." By contrast, he said, "our enemies have a clue where we will be and they change their behaviors as well. And so these voids are created and bad things happen."
BUSH: Yes. You know, a lot of things in history change over time. I think people will respect the resolve that my brother showed, both in defending the country and the war in Iraq. But history will judge that in a more objective way than today. The war has wound down now and it's still way too early to judge what success it had in providing some degree of stability in the region.
Bush said that not maintaining the viable prospect of US military action "empowers bad behavior in Tehran amongst its leaders." Bush criticized the Obama administration for failing to encourage internal resistance to Iran's mullahs. Iran's theocrats have subjected the "green movement" protesters to a series of brutal crackdowns.
"I think we need to be much more aggressive in supporting civil opposition to the regime in Iran," Bush said. "I was saddened to see how the Obama administration handled the post-election revolution on the streets. It seemed like we were very tepid, at a time when we should forcefully support freedom. It's part of who we are as a nation, and I think we should embrace this noble notion: If not for the United States, who? Who will be there to help?"
Jeb supported the covert American effort to supply the right-wing militias making up the Nicaraguan contras in the mid-1980s. He has long supported the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba. In 1997, he signed onto the Project for a New American Century, a group that included many of the neoconservative architects of the Iraq invasion, which called for a "Reaganite" foreign policy of military strength and "moral clarity"--although in 1998, the year he was running a second time for Florida governor, he was not a signatory to the group's call to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein.
Bush received a draft number of 26 on a calendar-based scale that went to 365, earning him a "1A" classification that meant he likely would have been drafted if the war continued at full pace. But he avoided such a fate because the war was winding down--a fact for which some credit was due those of his generation who participated in protests that he had refused to join.
The fact of it was, Jeb was deeply troubled by Vietnam and Johnson's handling of it. So troubled, in fact, that in the coming years, not only did he not sign right up to join the infantry but instead he was seriously considering filing for conscientious objector status, and wanted to run it past his dad.
To George H. W. Bush's credit, and notwithstanding his later, withering criticism of those who did not fight, he told Jeb that he would support whatever decision he made. George said, 'Whatever you decide, I will back you 100%.'"
In late 1971, Jeb, a lanky 18-year-old with hair longer than his parents might have liked, decided to back his father's political career. He went to Houston to get his physical. Had Nixon & Congress not wound down the draft, Jeb would likely have been called up. So he can argue that although he wrestled with the prospects of fighting in a war, in the end he did the right thing by his country.
Conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
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