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Jeb Bush the Iraq War Dead-Ender

Jeb Bush will be delivering a hard-line foreign policy speech later today:

Jeb Bush will seek to recapture the Republican presidential primary race from Donald Trump on Tuesday with a hawkish speech echoing his brother’s foreign policy and attacking the Obama administration for leaving Iraq too soon.

It’s not news that Bush has embraced reflexive hawkishness on foreign policy. When his first instinct is to denounce normalization with Cuba and to call the Iran nuclear deal an example of appeasement, we should expect nothing else from him, and I don’t. If anyone still hopes that there is a crypto-realist hiding behind all of this boilerplate hawkish rhetoric, this should finally put an end to it.

The most remarkable thing about Bush’s position on Iraq in these speech excerpts is that he is boasting that he thinks that U.S. soldiers should have continued to fight and die in Iraq for the last three and a half years, and he is implying that a residual force should have been kept there indefinitely. Since the Iraqis wanted U.S. forces out of their country, there was no realistic chance of having such a residual force beyond 2011, but the telling thing is that Bush thinks there should have been one anyway. That force would have been a target for renewed insurgency, and many more Americans would have died and been wounded to carry out an unnecessary mission in a war that Bush’s brother started, and Bush wants people to identify him with this position. Because of his name and foreign policy views, Bush was never going to be able to separate himself fully from the Iraq war and its toxic legacy, but his choice to present himself to the country again and again as an Iraq war dead-ender is truly impressive political malpractice.

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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