Paul Pillar takes Jeb Bush to task for his weak statements about “mistakes” made during the Iraq war:
One of the mistakes that were made in Iraq, said Bush, was “not creating an environment of security after the successful taking-out of Hussein.” This perpetuates the myth, dear to many promoters of the war, that if things did not go well it was all just a matter of flawed execution. This totally evades the grand, fundamental mistake of launching the war in the first place. It also begs the question of just how big and costly an effort Bush thinks it would have taken to “create an environment of security.” Maybe he could refer back to the judgment of the Army chief of staff at the time, Eric Shinseki, whose assessment on this question got him shunned and expelled from the administration of George W. Bush.
Like Rubio’s self-serving rhetoric on the Libyan war, Bush’s remarks about the mistakes he thinks were made in Iraq were deliberately avoiding the major questions surrounding these policies. In the Libyan case, Rubio wanted to avoid the glaring flaw in the intervention that toppling the government was bound to create an unstable and violent country that would create problems beyond its borders, and so he just wished this problem away by saying that a “more decisive” effort would have secured the country. This amounts to saying that the U.S. can impose order on poorly-governed, fractured countries after destroying their existing governments simply through greater exertion and more resources. Bush’s view about Iraq is almost identical, since he seems to think that the lack of security was something that could have been readily remedied. He praised the “surge” for these reasons while conveniently overlooking that the “surge” failed by its own terms and was at best a temporary band aid on the disaster caused by the original invasion.
Like Rubio, Bush wasn’t interested in addressing the question of whether regime change was desirable in retrospect, because for him to question a policy now that he proudly supported all along would remind everyone that his judgment on these issues is not all that good. Interventionists can never admit that a foreign war was wrong in principle, because to admit this would be to allow that the impulse to “do something” is sometimes wrong and often enough very much so. Neither was Bush interested in reconsidering the wisdom or justice of preventive war in general. Bush and Rubio look back on two of the worst foreign policy blunders of our generation, shrug, and suggest that the greater application of U.S. hard power would have fixed whatever was wrong with it. This shows them to be not only unwise on great foreign policy matters, but it shows that they are incorrigible interventionists for whom the answer is always more intervention.