Jeb Bush Should Have Said This about Iraq

Former Republican Florida governor and heavyweight 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush has created a major controversy over a very controversial issue – the Iraq war. This is going to do some damage to Bush in his run for the White House. For many it will demonstrate that he is not the best candidate, but with 18 months until the 2016 election he certainly has plenty of time to recover.

Bush first said that “knowing what we know now” that he would still have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which his brother George W. Bush authorized as president.

This came as a shock to most Americans. After all “knowing what we know now” that invasion looks like a great foreign policy error. Not only has the nation of Iraq disintegrated badly but the Christians of Iraq have been dispersed and decimated.

Jeb Bush clarified his comment, but that does not take away from the harm of the original statement. In the original answer he obviously was showing family loyalty to his embattled brother for his decision to invade Iraq. Here is how reported his comments:

Jeb Bush first (erred) Monday when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked if he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 “knowing what we know now” — that U.S. intelligence proved to be faulty and Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. Yes, he replied. The next day, Bush took to Sean Hannity’s radio show to explain he misinterpreted the question and called it a “hypothetical” he couldn’t answer. On Day 3, Bush’s line was that such questions do a “disservice” to those who perished in the war. By the fourth day, Bush had finally settled on a clear answer: “Knowing what we know now, I would not invade.” (end of excerpt)

OK, this is downright dumb considering the losses we suffered in Iraq in blood alone, never mind in treasure and in the political divisions created in the US. feels great sadness about our military deaths and injuries there. And to think that Jeb Bush did not have a good answer is confounding, especially considering that Iraq is still a crucial issue vis a vis the Bush family, and that the Bushes are a seasoned political family.

Meanwhile a questioner at a Jeb Bush appearance said “Your brother created ISIS,” in reference to the Iraq war and its aftermath including the rise of the terror group ISIS. This is going to be yet another point of attack on Jeb Bush if he is the nominee. Here is what Jeb Bush should have said in response to the original question from Megyn Kelly, and what he should say about Iraq from now on. This comes from the keyboard of, and is the most comprehensive response that he could give:

“The Iraq invasion was instigated by my brother George W. Bush based on four premises. The first is that major figures in the American media and the Democrat party said over and over and over after the first Gulf War – the Desert Storm war of 1991 – that my father, president George HW Bush, ‘should have gone to Baghdad’ to take out Saddam Hussein instead of simply driving Iraqi forces from Kuwait. This criticism was made in order to belittle the American victory.

Obviously this relentless criticism had a powerful effect on my brother in his decision to “finish” the Desert Storm war by going to Baghdad in 2003.

Second, international and national intelligence agencies reported wrongly that Hussein had the ability to make weapons of mass destruction. This was a major impetus for the invasion. And if it had been true, it would have offered a rationale for the invasion. The big question here is: Why was this intel so wrong? What is ailing our intel agencies?

Third, my brother, president George W. Bush, was acting as a humanitarian when he sent our military forces into Iraq. The atrocities of Saddam Hussein were well known over many decades, and millions of Iraqi citizens had suffered directly or indirectly including hundreds of thousands brutalized, tortured and killed by the Hussein regime, in two wars started by this vicious dictator, and in the serial attacks on the Kurds. It was gratifying to see an evil man go to the gallows in front of the whole world. That was a major accomplishment of the war.

Iraq also was known to be harboring al qaeda terrorists, paying bounties to suicide bombers acting against Israel, and even had been involved in an unsuccessful 1993 plot to assassinate my father, president George HW Bush, on a visit to Kuwait.

Fourth, 77 US senators supported the decision to invade Iraq, including 29 Democrats. Those votes in themselves provided great momentum for the invasion.

And to my brother’s great credit, Iraq has held free and fair elections and seen the first flowering of democracy. Unfortunately there are forces there who do not want to see this, who have created the current situation.

But then after a hard-fought victory my brother warned that we should not withdraw our troops from Iraq prematurely. But president Barack Obama, with the acquiescence of secretary of state Hillary Clinton, withdrew our troops prematurely in 2011. The subsequent deterioration of Iraq, and the rise of ISIS, is largely a result of this terrible decision by Clinton and Obama.

By the way ISIS is made up of Sunni Muslims, of which Hussein was one. So again we see what my brother was seeking to vanquish in Iraq.

Hillary Clinton also made another major foreign policy blunder as secretary of state when she cheered the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Libya and Egypt, also in 2011, when that also represented the rise of radical Islam. I believe that the United States should have offered unequivocal support for the pro-American president of Egypt at the time, Hosni Mubarak. I also believe that colonel Moammar Qadaffi was keeping Libya stable while today Libya is in very bad shape without Qadaffi, and with radical Muslims controlling far too much of that country.” (end of suggested Bush answer)

This is what Jeb Bush should say from now on about the Iraq war. Mr. Bush is free to use this statement verbatim in a written press release so that it can be disseminated directly and without any question or misinterpretation.

This response does two things: It clarifies the origins of the Iraq War, and of ISIS, and it puts the onus on Hillary Clinton for the deteriorating situation in Iraq. That is a win-win for the Republican side in 2016.

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