Jeb Bush keeps railing against Trump on foreign policy:
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And his bluster overcompensates for a shocking lack of knowledge on the complex national-security challenges [bold mine-DL] that will confront the next president of the United States.
The odd thing about this line of attack is that it can easily be turned around on Bush or any of the other hawkish candidates. Considering some of Bush’s positions, he shouldn’t be accusing anyone else of foreign policy ignorance or bluster. His preferred policy for Syria, for example, is extremely dangerous, and he seems oblivious to the enormous risks that the U.S. would be courting if he had his way. Trump often doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he isn’t one of the candidates endorsing military action that could get us into a shooting war with a major power. Bush’s op-ed frames the clash with Trump as a “clear” choice between the two on national security, but the contrast between them isn’t flattering to Bush (or any of the other more hawkish candidates).
Besides creating an unacceptable risk of conflict with Russia, there are other reasons why a “no-fly zone” in Syria makes no sense. Hawks present it as a way to protect civilians and refugees against attack, but as Henri Barkey explained yesterday it isn’t going to do that:
Air power can stop tanks, but can do very little when it comes to protecting civilian populations from the likes of the Islamic State or al-Nusra. Even Assad’s paramilitaries could easily infiltrate the buffer zone and inflict their share of violence. All it takes is a few bands of marauders on foot to create mayhem and all the air forces of the world would be helpless. Another unintended consequence of a buffer zone bereft of protection from ground forces is that its population would be susceptible to Islamic state’s forcible recruitment of youngsters to their cause.
No one, including the no-fly zone’s most vociferous supporter, Turkey—much less the U.S. or the Europeans—is willing to send ground troops into this safe zone.
When Syria hawks talk about creating a “safe zone” in Syria, they neglect to mention that this area would need to be secured by forces on the ground. If it isn’t guarded on the ground, it simply corrals civilians into a place where they can be attacked. Since no government appears willing to commit to doing this, the calls for a “no-fly zone” are that much more ridiculous. Bush has endorsed doing something so reckless in Syria that it ought to disqualify him from consideration as a presidential candidate, but he still bizarrely thinks that he can lecture other candidates on foreign policy. Instead of damaging his intended target, Bush has once again drawn attention to his own terrible judgment on foreign policy.