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Jeb Bush, Iraq War Dead-Ender

National Archives ID 6176922 Creator: White House; David Valdez--HUD

Jeb Bush has stopped evading questions about Bush-era foreign policy:

In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Bush said that he would have authorized the 2003 U.S. war in Iraq, although he acknowledged that it was a mistake that more was not done to guarantee security in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was removed from power. He reminded the interviewer that Mrs. Clinton, then a U.S. senator also supported the Iraq invasion. And he said his brother agreed that mistakes were made after Saddam’s fall.

“So just for the news flash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those,” he said.

Bush’s answer is useful in confirming that he doesn’t have the first clue that the Iraq war was a colossal blunder and a horrifying, destructive waste. He clings to the notion that the invasion was justified by pre-war intelligence. That tells us that he thinks the WMD-based case for war was actually compelling instead of being the nonsense that opponents of the war knew it to be at the time. More important, Bush predictably misses the point that the Iraq war was illegal and unnecessary. Even if administration claims had been right, there was no threat to the U.S. or any other country that warranted an invasion. The main problem with the war was not that the U.S. and its allies failed to prepare for the aftermath of regime change (though they did), but that they launched a “preventive” war on shoddy evidence for the explicit purpose of toppling another government by force.

The decision to invade was indefensible, and the war was entirely unjustified. It could not have been salvaged or made better by a more competent occupation, but then there is no reason to think that the previous administration or any American administration would be competent at establishing a new system of government in another country that it barely understands. The fact that Bush can’t begin to grasp that the original, irredeemable error was the invasion itself tells us all that we need to know about his appallingly bad foreign policy judgment. It gives everyone fair warning that he would make the same sort of disastrous blunder if presented with the opportunity. That alone proves him to be unfit for the presidency.

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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