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“Jeb’s New Iraq Stance”: My Brother’s ‘Mission Was Accomplished’

In the early months of his candidacy, Jeb Bush fumbled whenever he faced extremely predictable questions about his brother’s foreign policy. When asked about Iraq again at last week’s debate, he said that, knowing what we know now, “it was a mistake,” then inelegantly pivoted from praising veterans to blaming Obama for the current situation in the Middle East. This week Bush debuted a new stance: Whatever mistakes President George W. Bush made along the way, the Iraq War ultimately turned out for the best (at least until President Obama and Hillary Clinton messed it all up).

On Thursday in Iowa, he even used one of the most notorious lines from his brother’s presidency. “I’ve been critical and I think people have every right to be critical of decisions that were made,” Bush said at a Q&A hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security. “In 2009, Iraq was fragile but secure. [The] mission was accomplished in the way that there was security there and it was because of the heroic efforts of the men and women in the United States military that it was so.”

Bush also declared, “Taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” He said it was a mistake to stop the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ metadata because there’s no evidence that “civil liberties were violated, that people’s privacy was violated.” He defended the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, saying he’s been there and “this is not a torture chamber.”

Torture is one point where Jeb slightly disagrees with W. He thinks “torture is not appropriate,” and he credited his brother with ending enhanced interrogation techniques (which the George W. Bush administration initially authorized). “The change of policy that my brother did and then was put into executive order form by [President Obama] was the proper thing to do,” he explained. But Bush wouldn’t commit to keeping that executive order in place, saying, “I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement.”

In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday, Bush argued that President Obama and Hillary Clinton should be blamed for the current situation in Iraq, not his brother. “Why was the success of the [2007 troop] surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary?” Bush said. “And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”

Trying to turn one of his biggest liabilities into a problem for Clinton is a bold strategy, but so far there isn’t much evidence that it’s working. Following Bush’s remarks, a number of people pointed out that the withdrawal was his brother’s idea. “I remind everybody that us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. That was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty,” said U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, an architect of the surge.

And TheNew Yorker‘s Dexter Filkins argued that, while Clinton “played a supporting role in a disastrously managed withdrawal,” that stemmed from a “disastrously managed war itself.” Plus, she wanted to leave some troops in Iraq:

By all accounts, she was one of the people inside the Administration who advocated for keeping a residual force in Iraq. “Hillary very much wanted to keep troops in the country,” James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador to Iraq at the time, told me. This does not amount, in Jeb’s words, to “standing by” while Iraq burned.

When asked about that point on Thursday, Bush called it an “aggressive effort to rewrite history,” saying it was obvious that Obama needed to renegotiate the Bush administration’s agreement.

Bush’s nuanced (or rather, factually shaky) argument may win over some Republicans, but convincing America that Obama and Clinton deserve more blame for the Iraq War fallout than the president who started it is a tall order. It seems the only mission Jeb accomplished this week was providing sound bites for attack ads linking him to his brother.

 

By: Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, August 14, 2015

August 16, 2015 Posted by | George W Bush, Iraq War, Jeb Bush, Mission Accomplished, Status of Forces Agreement | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Forgetting A Little Detail Called… His Brother”: Jeb Bush Is Even Nuttier Than Trump Now

Donald Trump’s remarks about Megyn Kelly still make him the most vulgar of the Republican presidential candidates.

But he is no longer the nuttiest.

That distinction was claimed by Jeb Bush in a speech at the Reagan Library, when he declared that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are to blame for the rise of ISIS.

Jeb being the brother of the guy who used 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq in the first place, a venture that then-Senator Barack Obama opposed.

Six weeks after the opening “shock and awe” bombardment, President George Bush declared in a speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln that the “major combat operations” in Iraq had ended in victory.

“Mission Accomplished,” read the big banner in the background.

Thousands of deaths later, the war was still raging and proving to be unwinnable.

In 2008, President Bush signed what was officially called an “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq.”

The agreement required us to withdraw our troops from Iraqi cities by June of 2009 and from the country altogether by December 31, 2011.

The schedule was already set in place when Obama took office in 2009. That included the 2009 closing of our biggest POW facility, Camp Bucca. The prisoners who were released from Bucca included Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

As has been reported in The Daily Beast, al-Baghdadi uttered some parting words to the camp’s commander.

“He said, ‘I’ll see you guys in New York,’” Army Colonel Kenneth King recalls.

Al-Baghdadi went on to become the head of ISIS and to announce the creation of a new Islamic State.

Obama did try to renegotiate the so-called “SOFA agreement” in order to allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past 2011, but he could not get the deal he wanted. Critics say he could have taken a more aggressive stance in the years after 2011, when the descendants of al Qaeda in Iraq began a murderous comeback.

But, of course, al Qaeda in Iraq would not have been a force of any consequence if President Bush had not smashed the Iraqi state in 2003.

In the meantime, we spent billions training Iraqi government troops who fled seemingly whenever they were attacked, leaving behind billions more in U.S. supplied equipment.

None of that was Obama’s creation.

All of it was a consequence of what President Bush so rashly set in motion.

And now his brother Jeb is trying to pin it on Obama as a way of going after Hillary Clinton. Talk about nutty. Not to mention offensive.

Trump is supposed to be the nutty and offensive one, but when it comes to ISIS he seems mainly to be woefully uninformed.

“Believe it or not, Iran is funneling money to ISIS,” Trump said on CNN.

Jeb could no doubt tell you that Iran is in fact battling ISIS by proxy and, in some instances, directly.

Something other than ignorance is at work when Jeb tries to pin the ISIS mess on Obama and Hillary.

Yes, as senator, Hillary did vote in favor of invading Iraq. And yes, as Secretary of State, she failed to make Iraq a top priority. (Though she did push Obama to keep American troops in Iraq after 2011.)

But she can hardly be faulted for what was all but sure to follow when Jeb’s brother gave the orders to invade Iraq.

And Obama is even less at fault.

Jeb is only able to claim otherwise because the people who truly are to blame have never been held accountable.

That includes not just Jeb’s brother but also former Vice President Dick Cheney, who promises to be even nuttier than Jeb when he makes an appearance of his own at the Reagan Library on September 9, two days before the 14th anniversary of 9/11.

Cheney and his daughter, Liz, will be there to sign copies of their new book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. The library’s website says, “Dick and Liz Cheney explain the unique and indispensable nature of American power, reveal the damage done by President Obama’s abandonment of this principle, and show how America can and must lead again.”

Never mind that between the war in Iraq, the loss of focus on Afghanistan and the CIA torture scandal, the elder Cheney probably did more to weaken America than any other single individual in recent history.

The website goes on, “The Cheneys do what no one before them has done: chart a path forward to restoring American power and strength, explaining what must be done to reverse course, to fight and win the war on terror, to rebuild our military and reassure our allies that they can once again rely on American leadership.”

Neither parody nor irony seem intended as the website concludes, “A critical, frank, and much-needed touchstone, Exceptional should stand as a guiding principle for the potential presidential candidates in 2016—and for policymakers today and beyond.”

Talk about beyond nuts.

Perhaps if some of the other candidates do use Cheney’s book as a guiding principle, they too can prove to be even nuttier than Trump, who seems unlikely to read a book or anything else.

All anybody who wants to sound wackier than The Donald need do is begin a sentence with, “Well, Dick Cheney says…”

Meanwhile, Trump remains not just the most vulgar of the candidates, but also the front-runner.

 

By: Michael Daly, The Daily Beast, August 12, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Iraq War, ISIS, Status of Forces Agreement | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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