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Jeb Bush’s Foreign Policy Confusion

Jeb Bush made an especially bizarre statement over the weekend:

The next president needs to foster better international relations and peace, he said.

I know how to do this because, yes, I am a Bush [bold mine-DL],” he said. “I happened to see two really good presidents develop relationships with other countries.”

Bush’s family loyalty is admirable in a way, but this is nonsense. His father did have a mostly successful record of cultivating good relationships with other governments, and his brother’s record was almost exactly the opposite of that. If one Bush knew how to “develop relationships with other countries,” the other for the most part excelled at harming and undermining them. The elder Bush’s foreign policy was far from perfect, but after one term he left the U.S. in a significantly better position internationally than when he took office, while his brother’s longer tenure was almost entirely one of massive blundering, loss, and failure. The fact that Bush thinks both of them were “really good presidents” suggests that he doesn’t really know anything about this, and it tells us that he is so wedded to defending his family’s reputation that he cannot acknowledge how badly his brother failed as president.

There is no reason to believe that Jeb has inherited his father’s foreign policy competence, which is in any case something learned and acquired through experience and not something that one picks up from “seeing” others do it. There is good reason to assume that he is as unprepared on foreign policy as his brother was when he was nominated. His insistence that his brother was a “really good president” is the clearest indication yet that his judgment can’t be trusted.

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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