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Jeb Bush ‘Deal’ Breaker

Did you see that Jeb Bush today called overthrowing Saddam Hussein a “pretty good deal” for America? That prompted Daniel Larison to tweet:

Larison added:

Toppling Hussein wasn’t a “good deal” for Americans, and it certainly wasn’t for Iraqis. The Iraq war was an appalling, unnecessary disaster for all concerned, and anyone that doesn’t understand that should never be allowed near the presidency.

Yes. Good grief, yes. This is crackpot stuff from Bush. Any Republican candidate who runs in 2016 on a platform of defending the Iraq War will have his head handed to him, and deserves to.

I remarked flippantly the other day on Jeb!’s foreign policy speech, saying that nobody wants to hear a member of the Bush family lecture Democrats on how they’ve screwed up Iraq. Well, now I’ve read the entire speech, and it is substantively terrible. Excerpt:

Only Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds can decide if they will live together and share power and resources in a way that will serve their interests, assuring the survival of their country. But these partners have to know that while the United States is there in measure, we are also there in earnest and for the long haul. They will come through for their country, but they’ve got to be certain that we have their back.

Is this 2005? We know that the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Kurds don’t want to live together in the same country. What has the last decade taught us, anyway? Why on earth do we think that American diplomatic pressure can make this happen?

More Jeb!:

Our ultimate goal in Syria is to defeat ISIS and to achieve long-term political stability in that country. Defeating ISIS requires defeating Assad, but we have to make sure that his regime is not replaced by something as bad or worse. The last thing we need in Syria is a repeat of Libya, with its plan-less aftermath, where the end of a dictatorship was only the beginning of more terrorist violence, including the death of 4 Americans in Benghazi. Syria will need a stable government, and a transition free of more sectarian blood-letting will depend on the credible moderate forces we help unite and build up today.

Er … right, so we can make a plan, find the “credible moderates,” empower them, and sort everything out. Just like in Iraq. Again: is this 2005?

It gets worse, if you can imagine it. Anyway, it’s hard to top Larison’s summary judgment on the speech. Excerpt:

The early excerpts from Bush’s speech didn’t fully convey how horrible his foreign policy vision for the region is. It is good that he has made his views known now so that there will be no illusion about the kind of foreign policy he would conduct if he were elected president.

The Middle East, especially Syria, Iraq, and ISIS, is an incredibly difficult problem. It is unreasonable to expect any American president to come up with the solution. But it is absolutely vital that the next American president not repeat the mistakes of the past. A Jeb Bush presidency would mean more war, more state-building, and more of the same old illusions that got us in such trouble there in the first place. If you liked the last Bush’s foreign policy, you’ll love this model.

UPDATE: Jeb! says he’ll not close the door on torture, even though the Catholic Church, of which he is a communicant, calls torture an “intrinsic evil.” So there’s that.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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