Jeb Bush indulged in some convenient revisionism regarding Iraq and ISIS in a recent appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show:
Well, had we kept the 10,000 troop commitment that was there for the President to negotiate and to agree with, we probably wouldn’t have ISIS right now.
There are many ways to describe this statement, but the best would probably be fatuous. No one can seriously believe what Bush said, so either his understanding of the relevant issues is painfully shallow or he is just reciting a line he knows to be untrue. Bush completely ignores that ISIS had its origins among the jihadists that flocked to Iraq because of the invasion and occupation. Admitting this would reflect badly on the Iraq war and his brother’s administration, and he appears to have no intention of saying anything that would do that. There was nothing that a smaller U.S. force would have been able to do to prevent the group’s gains. They would hardly have been able to make them cease to exist. He fails to acknowledge that the Iraqis were not going to agree to a continued U.S. military presence beyond 2011, so there was never any realistic question of keeping such a force in Iraq beyond the deadline that his brother’s administration negotiated. He evidently wants his audience to believe that a small residual force could have somehow prevented the Iraqi army from collapsing.
Bush’s statement combines the worst sort of second-guessing with a magical belief in the power of an American military presence to forestall undesirable developments in other parts of the world. The implication of Bush’s statement is that he thinks American forces should have remained in Iraq for the last three years, and his remarks suggest that he believes American forces ought to stay there indefinitely. There is every reason to assume that he would be more than willing to escalate U.S. involvement in the war against ISIS, and this statement tells us that he would be strongly opposed to withdrawing U.S. forces from any part of the world where they are currently engaged in hostilities.