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Jeb Bush and Foreign Policy (II)

Michael Brendan Dougherty implores Jeb Bush not to run for president. Among other things, he finds Bush’s foreign policy views repugnant:

Although recent years have made me appreciate the creative realism of George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy, Jeb Bush seems to be taking after his moralizing and confrontational brother, rather than his more restrained, consensus-building father. A recent speech in Miami revealed that Bush accepts the “we’re-rubber, you’re-glue” moral calculus of the most hawkish voices. When America kills foreigners, the foreigners are to blame. But when Russia invades Ukraine, or Syria disintegrates into civil war, that’s America’s fault for not doing something. This is stupid and dangerous.

That seems to describe Jeb Bush’s foreign policy views fairly well. Everything Bush has said publicly on the subject confirms that he agrees with his party’s hard-liners on most issues, and he has never said anything that would suggest the opposite. As a domestic policy “centrist,” Bush’s ability to break with the party significantly on foreign policy is greatly reduced. Like many relative moderates, Bush overcompensates for his “centrism” on domestic policy by endorsing failed and confrontational policies abroad. For their part, quite a few movement conservatives are willing to forgive all kinds of heterodox views on many other issues so long as the “moderate” candidate fully embraces hawkish interventionism. That probably won’t be enough to win the nomination, but it will make the quality of the debate during the nomination contest that much worse.

To challenge the party on its prevailing foreign policy views would represent a repudiation of his brother’s record, and as far as anyone can tell he doesn’t think his brother did a bad job as president. I don’t think that is just public family loyalty at work. That may be even more disturbing than the awful foreign policy views, because it means that Bush doesn’t think that the GOP needs to make any substantive changes to separate itself from the Bush era. Then again, Bush said in that same Miami speech that he thinks the embargo of Cuba should continue and should made even more restrictive, so he clearly isn’t bothered by obvious failure.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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