Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush’s Empty Indictment

Both brothers use muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding.

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Foreign policy is a complicated and bottomless topic, which forces politicians to address it with abstract words and punchy sound bites. Smart politicians know the difference between the messy realities and the simple pictures they paint. The danger lies with politicians who mistake the slogans for reality.

Jeb Bush asserts that when it comes to these matters, he should not be confused with his brother or his father. "I am my own man," he declared in a speech Wednesday before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

In fact, it would be unfair to suggest that he got all his ideas about the world from his brother and father. It would be equally off-base to suggest that he has any of his own. What he, like most of the other Republicans who may run for president, has are muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding.

A typical paragraph went: "Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies."

The terms Bush uses are loaded but intangible, anesthetizing the brain with their lack of specificity. Inconsistent and indecisive? I thought the charge against President Barack Obama regarding Iraq and Afghanistan is that he was too consistent and inflexible in his determination to withdraw.

Nor does Bush admit that similar complaints have been made about virtually every president. His father was charged with vacillation for failing to remove Saddam Hussein. Richard Nixon was accused of betraying a commitment to Taiwan when he went to China.

We have lost the confidence of our friends? Critics leveled that charge against George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, whose policies were unpopular in Western Europe. We are forever disappointing our allies, and vice versa.

We no longer scare our enemies? The United States is a superpower that has been at war for 13 years, has brought about regime change in multiple countries, and is currently leading an air campaign against the Islamic State while conducting drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. If those facts give our enemies no anxiety, our enemies are exceedingly dim.

Why might Iran want nuclear weapons? Not because it doesn't fear us, but because it does. Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine partly out of worry it would join NATO, bringing an anti-Russian military coalition farther into his backyard.

Bush acts as though saying something is tantamount to making it happen. He demands that we force Iran to stop all nuclear enrichment, without explaining how. Its nuclear program, as he didn't mention, expanded while his brother was president.

In his immortal essay "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell identified the problem with this sort of advocacy. "A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks," he wrote. Our use of English, he said, "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."

Bush's speech is a model of what Orwell lamented. To deny lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, Bush said, is "feckless," while offering no reason to think they would change the outcome.

Obama has done about as much for Ukraine as George W. Bush did for Georgia when Putin invaded that country, which got only humanitarian supplies from Washington. Like Bush then, Obama takes the view that we should not intervene to escalate a conflict that Russia can easily win.

Jeb has a simple idea for the Islamic State: "You've got to tighten the noose, and take them out." Can air power alone do that, or will we need ground troops? How many? For how long? "Take them out" is not a plan. It's a wish.

The president's critics are fond of lamenting his alleged eagerness to appease and reluctance to lead. But the blizzard of pejoratives masks a reluctance to say what steps we should take in specific places, what costs they would involve, and how they would make us safer. Invading Iraq was supposed to make us secure, but 12 years later we face a new terrorist threat sprouted from the same soil.

Before the 2003 invasion, President Bush said, "A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions." Like Jeb's speech, his promise sounded good and meant little.

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72 responses to “Jeb Bush’s Empty Indictment

  1. It will be interesting to see if the hit pieces start coming on Bush now. It’s looking like he’s going to be the establishment pick for the GOP nomination.

    1. A Clinton-Bush rematch. No matter who wins everybody loses.

  2. Jeb lost his shot at my support long ago with his stances on Common Core and Amnesty. I don’t even have to look at his foreign policy to know I won’t vote for him.

    1. Bush lauded his father for having the “courage” to break his word and raise taxes.

      1. Funny that he didn’t mention his father’s “balls” to start civil asset forfeiture.

  3. “What he, like most of the other Republicans who may run for president, has are muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding.”

    As opposed to the Democrats, who run to pseudo-sophisticated claptrap. On average, I think the Republicans are slightly preferable; they tend to understand the the uses and limitations of military force slightly better than the Liberal Democrats (who apparently view the department of Defense as an olive drab extension of Health and Human Services). Perhaps it is non-PC To,suggest that neo-colonialism is preferable to witless Progressive Internationalism, but neo-colonialism is at least based on a premise that works (for some values of “work”). The anti-colonialism of the post WWII era has not produced impressive results, unless you like social collapse, famine as a tool of statecraft, ethnic cleansing, and violent islamism.

    1. *Libya, Iraq and others give C.S.P. S. two ‘thumbs up’*

    2. Neo-colonialism or non-intervention either would be superior to this half-assed Wilsonian world police bullshit.

      1. How is Neo-colonialism not worse? It’s like if the police didn’t just patrol the neighborhood but moved in and permanently occupied it.

        1. If we invaded a country, settled in to stay, and ran the place for several generations, there is a chance, JUST a chance, that their culture would change. The British Raj in India was a qualified success that way.

          I would add the option of Gunboat Diplomacy;

          Somebody annoys us, we send in an expeditionary force, topple their existing government and then – and this is important – LEAVE. The lesson being, run your country the way you want to, but DON’T come to our negative attention, because you won’t like it. Amoral, messy, and far liklier to have positive results than bootless Nation Building.

          1. No. You mind your own business, until someone threatens or attacks your country, its citizens or their liberty. Then you respond with enough force to end the threat as quickly as possible. You may need to stay around to mop up any potential, future mischief makers in the country. But then you get the hell out.

            A free country has absolutely no reason to ever engage in colonialism (looting India like GB did) or nation building (the US in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) or whatever the hell these terms mean.

            1. That’s pretty much what I’m suggesting with Gunboat Diplomacy. Just drop the “may need to stay around to mop up”. If there are other troublemakers in that country, wait until they attack your citizens or interests. Then go back and repeat the object lesson until they get the idea; Don’t fuck with us, we aren’t nice people.

              A free country can have a LOT of reasons to loot another country. They may not be NICE reasons, but hey exist. As for Great Britian “looting” India, that is a Narrative, and not a particularly nuanced one, even as Narratives go. The argumen can be made, and HAS been made by some Indians, that India benefited as muchas Britian did, in the long run.

              Colonialism could be a stright up horror show; see the Belgian Congo. But it could also be clearly better than anything on offer post-colonialism.

              See; the rest of Africa.

              1. I will not claim to be an expert of India. But I have visited both countries lately. The Taj Mahal in Ankara is missing fabulously valuable gold and precious stones from it’s interior artifacts because the Brits stole them. I later saw some of this same loot still on display in British museums.

                During their colonial period the Brits supported looting of countries and their ships any sea if they arbitrary decided the country was not supportive of the Crown.

                1. If you do not consider the British system of common law preferable to the web of feudal nastiness that existed prior to the British conquest, you might have a point. I don’t buy into the Multiculturalist idiocy that no culture is preferable to any other. Were the British Wonderfully Enlightened Benevolent Philanthropists in India? Oh, HELL, no! But given the track record of WEBPs, that’s in their favor.

                  I simply say that it doesn’t take too many decades of inter-tribal mass murder, constant border flat-ups, nitwits Revolutionary insurgencies, and the spread of Islam like dengue fever to make 19th Century Colonialism look goddamned good by comparison.

                  At the end of the 19th Century, the anti-colonialists had a number of valid moral points. But we tried it their way, and the results have ranged from so-so to bestial.

                  I’m not suggesting that we should “take up the White man’s burden” (but please note that in that poem the “lesser breeds without the Law” is a reference to Germany); we lack the temperament, and would be bad at it. But both the statement “A free country has absolutely no reason to ever engage in colonialism” and “looting india like GB did” are fatuous rote mantras that have only the scantiest relationship to reality.

                  1. contd.
                    A free country can have a LOT of reasons to engage in colonialism. Need for coaling stations. A desire to block the expansion of another, inimical, colonial power. Simple greed.

                    It’s like saying “Violence never solves anything”; it sounds all wonderful and moral, but that doesn’t make it true.

                    1. I get it. Bomb those darkies into the modern ages, right? I mean, its better than NOT bombing them.

              2. Also, free countries produce wealth and they have no incentive to use force to gain it from others. It is not in a free country’s interest to steal from other countries. That will, in the end, cause more wars and disrupt their ability to produce, the real source of the wealth.

          2. ^^^ This.

        2. You send in some trade emissaries and negotiate where and how to sell American culture to the unwashed masses (Micky D., Lady Gaga, etc.). That’s after government cronies (from both sides) have ripped off billions in redevelopment funds. What’s not to like?

          1. Or bomb them a little farther back to the stone age then pin four stars on Bill Gates and send him over for, say, fifteen years and let him run the country.

            1. Hell, send over the parasites currently misgoverning places like Detroit. The goverance in BOTH lcations would improve.

    3. You’re holding up India as a shining example of the success of colonialism, and yet India under British rule suffered quite a few of the ails that you cite as being consequences of the alternative.

      1. Please, read a little more history and get back to me. No, India under the British was not paradise on Earth. It WAS a notably better place to live than neighboring territories not under British authority.

        There has been a concerted effort for more than a century to smear the British in India. Some of it is justified, but considering that the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives who are behind it have been fans of most of the truly outrageous monsters that came rolling down the pike in that time, their grounds for criticizing others are scant.

        India ended up being a moderately democratic republic, that at least flirts with the concept of civil rights. That may not sound like a lot, but in world terms it’s pretty damn good.

        1. “but considering that the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives who are behind it”

          It was actually Indian Nationalists who were behind it and organized the opposition to British rule. It was also the Indian people who would overwhelmingly reject any return to colonial rule by Britain or any other nation. They are not necessarily Liberals or Progressives, but they do value independence.

          1. There was an extensive anti-colonial movement IN BRITAIN made up of British Liberals. Completely distinct from the Indian Independence movement, though some goals coincided

            1. You ever hear of Edmund Burke? Not a British Liberal by any means. He’s most noted today for his opposition to the French revolution and the British colonial efforts in India. Why you would want to paper over conservative opposition to colonialism does a great disservice to people like Burke, people I assume you have some sympathy for. Britain’s Liberals typically were in favour of colonialism.

              However extensive Britain’s anti-colonial movement was, it was hardly distinct from Indian (or even American) anti-colonial movement. And it was Indians (and Americans) who were responsible for their own successes.

        2. I was mostly commenting on the irony of your argument. If you’re going to say anti-colonialism is bad because of X, Y, and Z then your example of the successful colonialism shouldn’t have been plagued by X, Y, and Z.

          “There has been a concerted effort for more than a century to smear the British in India.”

          Same could be said of any oppressive regime. Sorry if I don’t feel bad for the poor, misunderstood British imperialists.

          “India ended up being a moderately democratic republic, that at least flirts with the concept of civil rights. That may not sound like a lot, but in world terms it’s pretty damn good.”

          I’m sure the fact that India eventually became a democratic republic, after a decades-long anti-colonial struggle, is a great consolation to the millions who died as a result of British rule.

    4. What’s the difference between colonialism and neo-colonialism? Aside from the fact that one is newer than the other.

  4. Foreign policy is a complicated and bottomless topic, which forces politicians Chapman to address it with abstract words and punchy sound bites.

    1. Chapman is shocked, shocked, to discover that politicians mouth empty platitudes a year out from the primary.

  5. “Bush’s speech is a model of what Orwell lamented. To deny lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, Bush said, is “feckless,” while offering no reason to think they would change the outcome.”

    Every time American politician calls for weapons to be sent to Ukraine, editorial staff at Russia Today has a collective orgasm and jizzes their pants. Propaganda value is just that good.

    Maybe this is a cunning plan by US administration? To halt Russian activities in Ukraine by making Russian Ministry of Information to run out of clean plants, or kill them via orgasm-induced heart attacks?

    1. I saw a recent article which claimed 60% of Ukranian casualties were from friendly fire mishaps and general incompetence. Oh, here it is. You want to give these disunified yahoos more guns?

      1. I meant that as a generic ‘you’, not an accusation of Malkavian.

      2. Holy shit!! That’s Keystone Cops bad.

        I do feel for those poor bastards. “There but for the grace of God” and all that.

        As fucked up as the US is, I’m hard pressed to find a safer place to live than Farmtown, Mid-Michigan.

        1. Plus, I apparently have more guns than the Ukrainians, so….

      3. Yeah.. Those are the nationalist battalions. They are not very good. Ukrainian army is better, but their command is criminally incompetent. I mean, they got trapped at Ilovaisk once, couldn’t they learn a lesson and not repeat being trapped at Debalstevo?

  6. Speaking of war……please please PLEASE for the love of god let this story be true. (but why the hell is this CNN article under CNN-MONEY?)

    The people all challenge O’Reilly’s depiction of Buenos Aires as a “war zone” and a “combat situation.” They also doubt his description of a CBS cameraman being injured in the chaos.

    “Nobody remembers this happening,” said Manny Alvarez, who was a cameraman for CBS News in Buenos Aires.
    Jim Forrest, who was a sound engineer for CBS there, said that when he heard O’Reilly retell the Argentina riot story to interviewer Marvin Kalb several years ago, he contacted Kalb and said “I was on that crew, and I don’t recall his version of events.”
    The contradictions come several days after Mother Jones, a left-leaning magazine, first reported about the discrepancies in O’Reilly’s claims about his coverage of the Falklands War. O’Reilly was a young correspondent for CBS News at the time, assigned to cover the war from Buenos Aires, which was more than 1,000 miles from the offshore conflict zone.

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/2…..index.html

    1. I cannot begin to express how much I don’t care about this transparent attempt to resurrect Williams’ character by tearing down O’Reilly’s.

      Cause that’s all this is. O’Reilly isn’t even a “reporter” or “anchor”. He’s a bloviator.

      Who cares?

      This is why I stopped watching pretty much all TV “news” and get mine all….online….

      *adjusts tinfoil*

      1. I don’t disagree with a word you said. But sweet Jesus I hate Bill O’Reilly.

        1. I despise O’Reily too, but what annoys me most is that the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive collective expects me to loathe and shun O’Reilly and his ilk, while lapping up the lies and posturing of THEIR intellectually dishonest propaganda monkeys.

          This is why Limbaugh gets soooooooo much traction; he does to the Left what the Left does to everybody else, and watching their spittle-spraying outrage is delicious. Limbaugh does it with a nudge and a wink, though. Which doesn’t make him Mr. Clean, but does make what he does slightly less loathsome.

          1. I can’t remember where in Marxist or Allinsky theory that two wrongs make a right”, but what do three or more wrongs make?

            1. They worked for NBC, CBS. For Christsakes, they were expected to lie as part of their job. The Dan Rathers of their generation.

              1. The thing is ALL reporters have a POV. ALL reporters gloss things over. ALL reporters get their background from “trusted sources” who are no better than they should be. But, back in the days of H. L. Mencken, this was widely acknowledged amd the only people seriously taken in were too stupid to worry about.

                The Leftwing media sold us a bill of goods called “unbiased reporting”. They may have even ment it, in a sense. What they were seeking to replace was the Right Wing derangement of the Hearst Press of the 1950’s, which made the John Birch society look sensible, if what I’ve read of it is anything like a fair sample. But they not only DO NOT deliver, they CAN’T.

                And, frankly, of late they aren’t even all that good at pretending.

          2. I can understand why people would want to ignore O’Reilly, but despise or loathe him? Oh, really? I’ve known air personalities I could love to hate, but he’s not one of them.

      2. “But your guy did it too!!!111!!!”

        “And Rudy said Obama doesn’t love his country!!!!!!!”

        Outrageously outraged!!!!!!

        I…do…not…care.

        #nogoodguys

        1. What’s a double standard among conservative friends?

          1. Bo, did we review this topic over the weekend?

            It’s called a JOKE.

            Please, just stop.

            1. The John Stewart defense?

      3. Was he a reporter at the time?

        1. Do you think Brian Williams would have been fired for telling one tall tale about events 35 years ago?

  7. Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.

    Actually, this statement has more legitimacy than either Chapman or Bush realize. The thing is that said inconsistency has crossed party lines. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has yet to articulate a strategic framework that allies or rivals can look to to ground their actions or decisions relative to. It’s been ad-hoc hyper-interventionism. We’re the sentimental drunk with a loaded shotgun on the world stage.

    1. I think that’s a fair analysis of our federal government.

    2. I don’t see how our foreign policy has been both more coldly deadly and much less feared at the same time.

      1. I don’t see how our foreign policy has been both more coldly deadly and much less feared at the same time.

        Because there’s no projectable, anticipatable basis for it. For fear to have any useful meaning beyond generalized anxiety, it has to have some object. “I will not do X because I am afraid of the consequences.” The absence of any kind of strategic framework means that the X and the consequences are not only unknown, but unknowable. You might willingly give up your WMDs and have the U.S. support a rebellion against you (Libya). You might arm, equip and train people to fight U.S. soldiers while building a nuclear program and still have them make concessions for negotiations (Iran). The rhyme and reason is simply the vagaries U.S. domestic politics.

        1. Bill, this is very true and starts to get at the underlying reasons the US response since 9-11 has failed to end the terrorist threats”

          The most important underlying reasons for the failure: 1. The US did not clearly identify the enemy, 2. The US did not clearly enunciate the evilness of the enemy the moral right the country has in defending itself. & 3. Th US did not declare war and set a clear goal of the destroying the enemy.

        2. this is a valid point kaddaffi(SP?) worked with Bush to eliminate his weapons yet a few years latter another american American president totally ignored his working with us and gave weapons to his enimies. Why would any nation work with the U.S. since our policies change with the wind.

    3. “We’re the sentimental drunk with a loaded shotgun on the world stage.”

      Good line, Bill. My only quibble is you date as to when US foreign policy started looking like that of a maudlin drunk. I would put the year 1946. The cold-war includes both the Vietnam and Korean conflicts. Neither are exactly models of sober foreign policy.

    4. +1 cheney

      1. Except Cheney’s “strategy”, if you want to call it that, followed from the absence of any strategic framework. In the absence of recognized vital national interests or defined strategic priorities, we went off trying to remake the international system in the name of a war against a tactic. Every battle was one that needed to be fought and our geopolitical strategy focused on “getting bad guys”.

        1. “we went off trying to remake the international system in the name of a war against a tactic.”

          i think this is inaccurate, particular re: Iraq.

          The war in iraq wasn’t even really part of the ‘war on terror’ at all. It was a policy issue that the people in power had been fulminating about for over a decade, and came into office pre-9/11 with specific ‘regime-ending’ goals in mind…but no actual catalyst to enact them.

          re = ‘remake the international system’

          No. The iraq war was, if anything, an attempt to ‘re-do’ what neocons thought was the shitty multilateralist-war experiment of Bush I.

          IOW, they wanted to ‘correct’ the failures of the Gulf War, which was *itself* an actual change to the way ‘war should be fought’ in their mind. The Gulf in 1992 was a ‘remaking’ of the forms of international conflict for the worse from their POV. Multilateral instead of unilateral, ‘limited’ and risk-averse instead of decisive, failing to achieve any actual change in the regional status quo despite the costs…etc.

          I tend to discount the people who make much to-do about the ‘uniqueness’ of iraq as a ‘pre-emptive war’, or for its insane ambitions to ‘remake the middle east’. There were 3 fucked-up, insane petro-states (Saudi, Iraq, Iran) that were basically on the brink of regional war all the time. Getting rid of the most belligerent one of them was a gamble to simply ‘neutralize’ that issue somewhat. it wasn’t about ‘terrorism’, despite the marketing campaign.

  8. Can air power alone do that

    If the correct sort of bombs shall be attached to the plane’s hardpoints, then yes.

  9. Jeb has a simple idea for the Islamic State: “You’ve got to tighten the noose, and take them out.”

    “Then we’ll lock and load and go out there and ki-, ki-, ki- . . .”

  10. After re-reading this, I still get the sense that Chapman carries the same stupid criteria around for entering the Ukraine conflict as Bush and many of the Rs. The only reason he thinks we shouldn’t do it is because he thinks we wouldn’t be effective in the effort. Many R’s think we could make a difference, therefore we should. Both are wrong. A country only makes war if and when it is necessary to do so to defend itself or its allies with well known pacts (and be very careful about those pacts).

    This line of thinking carries 2 implications:

    1. If we could be effective, we should intervene.
    2. If we were truly being threatened as a nation by Russian bellicose toward Ukraine (which we obviously are not), then we should not respond to the threat because we might not be successful.

    Both are dangerous and/or wrong headed.

  11. Nice of the Botard to come and prove he’s learned nothing. What an ass you are, Botard.

    And I don’t give a fuck about Team Blue attempts to tear down a dick like O’Reilly whom I already hate, just to make another dick whose news I don’t watch look good.

    Fuck all of ’em, and you, too, Bo.

  12. the problem with Obama is I don’t think he wants to do anything but instead of saying let them fight for themselves he does a half ass job of bombing a few people and using too few troops which is far more dangerous than actually using all of your military assets in a declared war.I would respect Obama if he flat out said this is not our fight, your on your own. Then you have Bush who started out with a full military campain but then he listened to the left and didn’t follow through. In war you have three choice you let it be or you go in kill all and leave or you go in kill all then occupy for years which is what we did in both Japan & Germany. it takes balls to do any of those three things yet none of our president of recent want to commit, instead they are trying to please all sides of the political spectrum and that fails everytime.

    1. “Then you have Bush who started out with a full military campain but then he listened to the left and didn’t follow through.”

      whut

      yeah, that’s new.

      I think the “failure to follow-through” argument that sometimes appears from the Right should be called the ‘Golf-Swing’ military-analysis. Probably comes from people old enough to remember vietnam, and who still want to insist “It was a tie!*”

      Its really no different than the Left’s approach to Federal Spending = the problem is never in the fundamental conception or execution… its just *never enough* NEEDZ MOAR!!

      I recommend the book ‘Cobra II‘ in case you’re ever interested in the microscopic detail of bad-thinking that lead to the inevitable fuckups in Iraq. Though no one has ever (to my knowledge) ever fully provided a complete, verifiable chain of events/arguments that lead to Paul Bremer dropping his CPA neutron-bomb orders… which in my view, were the straw that broke the camel’s (no pun!) back, and represented the point-of-no-return beyond which little else was going to make much of a difference… “surge” mythology aside.

      *(bonus points to anyone who remembers what movie that’s from)

      1. Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie?

        1. i’ll give you a hint

  13. “he got all his ideas about the world from his brother”

    (cut to handwritten note in Jeb’s pocket from GW = “RE: FOREIGN STUFF – JUST PLAY DUMB. NO ONE ACTUALLY CARES WHO’S IN CHARGE OF PAKISTAN”)

  14. my mum in-law recently got a nice twelve month old Cadillac CTS Vsport Premium only from working parttime off a laptop
    ?????? http://www.jobsblaze.com

  15. If the GOP nominates another Bush, voter turnout will be even less than it was for Romney.

    We’ll never see another republican president in our lifetime. The socialists have won.

    IT’S ALL OVER FOLKS!!

  16. His foreign policy advisors look like a who’s-who of neocon “thinkers”, capped off by Paul Wolfowitz. If you loved W’s foreign policy, you’ll love Jeb’s….

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