Iraq War

Why Jeb Bush Can't Be Trusted With an Army

His reluctance to criticize his brother's war reflects a dangerous desire to forget the past.

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According to researchers at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, the war in Iraq that George W. Bush started in 2003 has killed about 200,000 people, mostly civilians, and cost American taxpayers more than $2 trillion. That's a pretty big mistake to admit, so it's not surprising that Bush continues to defend the war.

Nor is it surprising that the former president's brother, Jeb Bush, would be reluctant to criticize the Iraq debacle. But while that reticence is understandable for a brother, it is inexcusable for a presidential candidate, who is seeking a job that would put him in a position to make such disastrous mistakes.

Over the course of four days last week, the former Florida governor took four distinct positions on the Iraq war. On Monday he said he would have supported the invasion even if he knew that Saddam Hussein did not have chemical or biological weapons.

On Tuesday he said he had misunderstood the question but declined to express an opinion about the war. On Wednesday he said "there is no denying" that "given the power of looking back…anybody would have made different decisions," but he did not get specific. Finally, on Thursday, Bush said "I would not have gone into Iraq" without the erroneous intelligence indicating that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Bush's stated reasons for dodging this straightforward question are at least as troubling as the evasiveness itself. "That's a hypothetical," he told talk radio host Sean Hannity. "To delve into that and not focus on the future," he told reporters in Nevada, "I think is where I need to draw the line."

A presidential campaign, of course, is nothing but a series of hypotheticals about what might happen if voters elect the candidate or (God forbid) his opponent. And although this particular hypothetical focuses on the past, it tells us something important about the future: the circumstances in which the candidate can imagine taking the nation to war.

Bush's brother and other diehard defenders of the Iraq war, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, say Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction were just one reason to invade. He was a murderous tyrant, they say, and the world is better off without him.

But the world is sadly full of murderous tyrants. What supposedly distinguished this one was the threat he posed to the United States—a threat that proved illusory.

Furthermore, the invasion hardly ushered in an era of peace and stability. Instead it led to years of violence and chaos in Iraq—an environment that bred terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—and removed a regional check against Iran.

Bush also suggested that second-guessing his brother's war would dishonor the memories of the 8,000 American service members and contractors who died in Iraq. "It's very hard for me to say their lives were lost in vain," he said during an appearance in Arizona. "In fact, they weren't."

But they were. Worse, those lives were lost in a war that killed many other people (mainly noncombatants), caused tremendous destruction, and arguably made Americans less secure than if Saddam had remained in power.

That may seem like a horrible thing to say, but it's an even more horrible thing to do. That is why war should be waged only in self-defense, in response to clear and direct threats, and with the awareness that unintended consequences are inevitable.

Rand Paul, alone among the Republican presidential contenders, seems to understand that. "We have to question," the Kentucky senator said at a forum in Iowa on Saturday. "Is Iraq more stable or less stable since Hussein is gone? Is there more chaos or less chaos? Is ISIS more of a threat now because of the instability?"

According to Jeb Bush, such concerns are "hypothetical" and unworthy of discussion. That attitude should disqualify him from commanding the country's armed forces.   

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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61 responses to “Why Jeb Bush Can't Be Trusted With an Army

  1. the war in Iraq that George W. Bush started in 2003 has killed about 200,000 people, mostly civilians, and cost American taxpayers more than $2 trillion.

    EXACTLY LIKE LIBYA!

    (Peanut Gallery)

    1. Welcome to Retardation: A Celebration. Now, hopefully, I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

      1. LOL! Mmmm, candy!

  2. Well, it’s not Jeb’s turn, so he won’t be elected. It’s Hillary’s turn. When it’s Jeb’s turn, he can be elected. But it’s time for a cis-gendered vagina to lead the Free World?, and Hilldog is that vagina. And Snuke.

    So – don’t worry about Jeb. It’s not his turn, and he won’t be president as a result.

    1. I have finally convinced myself that Hillary is not going to win. Not because of her “policies” but because she’s a bad campaigner and people are tiring of her already. Ditto for Bush.

      So who is it going to be? I won’t allow myself to think Rand Paul will win it.

      BTW, did you see the “answers” in the NYTimes that Hillary finally coughed up for the five questions she deigned to answer? They were non-answers. It would be a groundless compliment to call them “pablum.”

      Example:
      “I am so proud of the foundation,” Mrs. Clinton said in response to a question about the controversy surrounding foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. “I’ll let the American people make their own judgments.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/politic…..nd-wealth/

      1. She is an average candidate at best.

        But there are not any good ones on the GOP side. I think Marco Rubio can beat her though – based purely on demographics. Jeb cannot.

        There are no Reagans or Obamas out there.

        1. I bet you’re the kind of guy who would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I’ll be watching you.

        2. Why can Rubio beat her on demographics but Ted Cruz cannot? A Hispanic of Mexican descent is going to pull a lot more Hispanics in than one of Cuban descent.

          1. Rubio is likely to win Florida. Cruz is not.

      2. I agree. She’s so unlikeable, I just can’t imagine her getting enough idiots to vote for her, because….she’s so unlikeable.

        OTOH – Barack Obama for not one term, but TWO. I’ve learned never to underestimate the stupidity of the American voting public.

        1. The Village Idiot – Dumbya, got elected for two terms.

          1. BOOOOOSH!!111!!!!!

            1. NO FAIR! HE MAKES TEAM RED LOOK BAD!

              1. Non Sequitur. That’s the problem we have with you yelling “Bush” as every shrub that passes by…

        2. Believe me, I’d feel so much better if I could say that the country will reject HRC for her policies, etc. rather than her campaign style. Imagine if she was a smart campaigner, as her sycophants endlessly claim — we would really be in trouble.

      3. There is not a single example of Hillary Clinton giving a straight answer to a question asked of her in the entire record of her existance, not one! I challenge anyone to find such a thing.

  3. Saddam’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction

    This is the dumbest Big Lie ever produced. Not even the retards who claim it really believe that after gassing the Kurds, Saddam gave up chemical weapons. I would be surprised if there was a single human being on the planet who believed he did, but it gets repeated over and over. The goal posts then are quickly moved to nuclear weapons.

    Saddam having WMD’s may not have been a good enough reason to invade. That he possessed a chemical ability, which used to be included in “WMD”, is unquestionable.

    1. Every knew he once used gas. If WW1 mustard gas is a WMD then the Bushpigs should not have talked about his nuclear capability ad nauseum.

      Bibi the Rat and the same neoconmen want war with Iran based on their non-existent WMD.

      1. If WW1 mustard gas is a WMD

        I realize that you are not sentient but weapons of mass destruction used to include Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…..estruction

        I realize that in an attempt to change truth, it helps to twist the meaning of words. Sullum is sentient, and knows what WMD means. He did not say “nuclear” because then other parts of his narrative begin to fall apart.

        1. Nerve gas used in 1982 would not have sold the war. It took the threat of nukes and falsely blaming Saddam for 9/11 to do it. Lies, in other words.

          That is reality.

          1. Hmm, those goal posts getting heavy?

          2. We went to war because as a nation we wanted to. Any justification would have worked at the time. The people of the United States as a whole bear the blame for the bad decision. It’s too easy to lay it at the feet of a few overly eager politicians. Our leaders, if anything were to be expected of them, should have realized that it was a fool’s errand, that no low intensity conflict since WW2 has been a success for the foreign military.

            We still labor under the delusion that these wars can be won.

            1. Yes. That is all true. But a Ron Paul or probably Gore would not have gone. Cheney came into office in Jan 2001 with Iraq war plans.

      2. We also found tons of yellowcake uranium. Now, yellowcake is not a fueled-and-read nuclear missile, but he wasn’t supposed to have ANY. The “We found no WMDs” lie depends on such willful stupidity and deliberate ignorance that it ill suits somebody who aspires to be a political critic.

        There are reasons to oppose the Iraq war. Absence of WMDs, or the drive and supplies to make them, is not one.

    2. We actually found his stockpile from the time he gassed the Kurds. It was not widely publicised because the people in office then felt it would look like an attempt to justify their action up to that point and not go over well.

      The question is whether any new chemical agents were made since.

      1. The question is whether any new chemical agents were made since.

        Goal post moving. He had them as we discovered. It really is absurd to claim that he somehow lost the ability to produce 1920’s technology which he at one time possessed. “We didn’t find a chemical factory in production” after telegraphing our invasion for months is where those goal posts eventually end up.

        I am not claiming that any of this is justification for invading. I just think that Sullum is being dishonest, here. Who knows, maybe he really believes it.

        1. Sullum who?

          By and large I don’t read the articles here.

          1. Sullum who?

            By and large I don’t read the articles here.

            I reluctantly admit I usually jump into the comments before reading the article.

            1. I don’t comment unless I read the article. That way I can heap scorn on those who didn’t. It’s my thing!

        2. The question I don’t have evidence for one way or another is if production stopped, not if the capacity was somehow misplaced.

          (And for the record, Sarin was 1938 and VX 1954. I’m not sure if they even bothered with WWI era agents)

    3. I believe that going into Iraq was a mistake. It was based on WMD in general, BUT faked documents showing Saddam buying or trying to buy yellowcake in particular. (remember Colin Powell at the UN?)

      That said, they DID find WMD in Iraq in the form of old chemical weapons. Bush did not make a big deal out of what they found, I suspect because it would just draw more attention to what was NOT found.

      So, the constant drumbeat of “there were no WMD in Iraq” is a lie. A rather tiresome lie. Saddam agreed to get rid of ALL his WMD including Chemical and Biological so finding Chemical weapons in Iraq did substantial at least part of what the CIA/NSA claimed.

      Whether some old chemical weapons were a good enough reason for us to invade Iraq is another matter. I personally don’t think Saddam was a threat to anyone but Iran and that we needed to mind out own business. I do get tired of the other side lying about this stuff constantly though. You can’t enhance your own credibility by lying about the other side.

      1. They found chemical weapons. They found labs for bioweapon research, bio-development feedstock, chemical precursors, and delivery systems Saddam was not supposed to have and which he had sworn he didn’t have. They found literally tons of high grade yellowcake uranium that he wasn’t supposed to be screwing with, and heavily contaminated nuclear laboratories, carefully hidden, that he also wasn’t supposed to have. So, whether the the buy the British thought they had identified ever went through, he’d got some somewhere.

        Why didn’t Bush make a bigger deal of this? Maybe it’s connected to intelligence operations or assets he wanted to keep under wraps. Maybe he simply realized that the Liberal/Progressive Media wasn’t interested in the truth, wasn’t going to let his side of the story out, and was never going to forgive him for opposing Al Gore’s attempt to steal the election in Florida. GOOD Republicans just roll over and play dead when their Liberal Betters say so.

        The Narrative the Iraq was an illegal and unjustified war is Progressive bushwa. It was certainly orders of magnitude better justified land more legal than Obama’s screwing around in Libya, soothing the Left would be OUTRAGED if we pointed out.

        Now, Iraw was/is not a particularly WELL RUN war. There are plenty of grounds to criticize Bush there. But saying “Bush lied, kids died” has about as much truth to it as the “Bush had shaped charges planted in the Two Towers” crap.

  4. No, the war didn’t “cost” anything. It’s like people never heard of the “Multiplier.” That war “spending” was the only thing that kept this country from going deeper into a “depression.” Sheesh.

    1. It worked for WW2!!!

      1. Dammit, Krugman. If you can’t post using your real name, don’t post at all.

        1. Sorry.
          *slithers off*

          1. Its a python in a Florida Man suit!!!!

            1. That’s redundant, Swiss.

              *tsk tsk*

            2. What you have just said, is one of the most terrifying things I could imagine.

              1. You have a small imagination.

                1. Actually the only thing I have an irrational fear of is cockroaches. Snakes don’t bother me.

                  1. Boy, are you in the wrong state.

                    1. Boy, are you in the wrong state.
                      Where did you think I got this fear from?

                  2. That scene from Creepshow must leave you a gibbering mess.

                    1. I haven’t seen it.

  5. The biggest argument against starting a war is the constant rewriting of history about that war.

    “It was stupid.” Three words! Followed up by “let’s not do that again.” Simple!

    1. Actually, at least one part of the war wasn’t stupid. We had to demonstrate that flouting an agreement with us has negative consequences. Jawing didn’t work. Sanctions didn’t work. Diplomacy is credit, and Saddam (believing that we didn’t have any)_ was insisting on cash. Did Iraq have anything we wanted badly enough to invade? No. Oil we can get elsewhere. But if breaking your word to us has no negative consequences, everyone will do it, and we can’t have that,

      I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; We should have topped Saddam’s government, hanged the silly sonofabitch if convenient, and LEFT. With a message, whether stated or implied, of “cross us again, and we’ll be back.”

      The altruistic twaddle of “nation building” may appeal to some of our sillier citizens. We may even have meant it as policy. But altruism in nations is not especially believable, and when and if it does happen it just confuses the watching heads of state. Policy wonks and State Department weenies like to pretend that international policy HAS to be complicated. It doesn’t, and its better when it isn’t.

      “Don’t come to our negative attention, because life gets really ugly when you piss us off” may not be a NICE policy, but it is easy to understand and extremely believable.

      1. And probably remarkably effective, for us at least. The poor bastards on the receiving end of the stick aren’t likely to like us any better, but they won’t fuck with us either. Trouble with the policy is there’s always some new dipshit deciding how much shit we put up with before the hammer comes down. Cheney would nuke Iran for looking crossways at us, Obama might have to actually watch some city consumed in nuclear fire before having a meeting to discuss diplomatic approaches to our unhappy neighbors.

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  7. The fact that Jeb is doing as well as he is only confirms for me that the republican party is finished. The party is so splintered I’ll bet the turnout in 2016 is less than it was in 2012. We’ll never see another republican president in our lifetime (next 30 years).

    IT’S ALL OVER FOLKS! And the socialists have won.

    1. Take a look at the other side of the aisle. The Democrats are seriously cnsidering running Hillary Clinton. Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they can get away with a candidated with more morals issues than a clapped-out $5 whore. But I don’t think so. And I think we are seeing signs that THEY don’t think so either, but they may do it anyway.

      Hang in there. Things were worse in 1859.

    2. It’s a little early for election speculation.

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  10. Jeb signed the PNAC Statement of Principles back in the 1990’s. What more needs to be said? If anyone votes for this guy thinking he is anything but a neocon they are delusional.

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  16. Only an idiot defends the Iraq War and it begs the question, “Is this guy stupid enough to be conned by the MIC like his brother was? Answer: Yes.
    Come on, Guys, everybody should know by now that the better part of the 2 Bush boys drizzled down Barbara’s leg. They are not the man their daddy is.

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