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“Trump Speaks The Truth”: The Donald Has The Better Of Jeb Bush In Their Spat Over 9/11

Here at the Country Mart, on the edge of Brentwood and Santa Monica, politics is not on the menu. The Sunday talk shows are no big thing. Imagine, people are not that excited about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming date with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Benghazi committee.

This is Hillaryland, a rare state with two Democratic women senators. But one flare from the presidential primary season has made its way west: Donald Trump said something simple and true, which needed to be said. I never thought I’d say it, but thanks for clearing the air on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Trump.

The failing presidential contender Jeb Bush has made this absurd statement his signature as a candidate: “My brother kept us safe.” No, President George W. Bush did not do that. Trump only pointed out that almost 3,000 died on that day and the World Trade Center towers fell. That’s the record of a day that broke the nation’s heart.

It happened on President Bush’s watch, while he was ignoring his CIA August intelligence briefings that a plot involving planes was in the air, so to speak. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan nor Iraq. We stayed friends with the desert kingdom for some reason; the Bushes were chummy with Prince Bandar. Bush fell down on the job, to say the least.

We are still paying dearly for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The fearsome Islamic State group is not keeping us safe, little brother. President Barack Obama had to own that grim truth, keeping more troops than planned in the warring Middle East neighborhood. Much of Syria has been destroyed, like a contemporary Carthage.

“My brother kept us safe” shows a tragic chorus of Bush blind loyalty at work again. Jeb Bush has clearly not learned any lessons from the past, asking the same family crowd of foreign policy advisors to help him, including that shrewd player and hawk, Paul Wolfowitz.

It’s his birthright, his inheritance. Jeb is very proud of being a Bush team player.

Finally, as a matter of finesse, “my brother” sounds like he’s running for home room president. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy always referred in public to his late brother, John F. Kennedy, as President Kennedy. That has more dignity, not the Bush strong suit.

Trump spoke the plain truth. It’s refreshing. Let’s have more of it from Republicans running for president.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, October 19, 2015

October 23, 2015 Posted by | 9-11, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Chief Mess-Maker As A Consultant”: Can Jeb Bush Ever Escape His Brother’s Shadow?

Jeb Bush has firmly established himself as the Republican to vote for if you wish his brother were still president. Best of luck with that.

In what was billed as a major foreign policy speech Tuesday, Bush proposed inching back into Iraq, wading into the Syrian civil war and engaging in much the same kind of geopolitical engineering and nation-building that George W. Bush attempted. So much for the whole “I am my own man” routine.

He finally understands that to have any credibility, even amid a field of uber-hawks (minus Rand Paul), he has to say the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. But judging from his actions, that’s not what he seems to believe. Why would someone who thinks the war was wrong include Paul Wolfowitz, one of its architects, among his top foreign policy advisers? Why would someone who sees the Middle East as an unholy mess reveal that he consults his brother, the chief mess-maker, on what to do next?

Bush says “we do not need . . . a major commitment” of American ground troops in Iraq or Syria to fight against the Islamic State — at least for now. But he proposes embedding U.S. soldiers and Marines with Iraqi units, which basically means leading them into battle. He proposes much greater support for Kurdish forces, which are loath to fight in the Sunni heartlands where the Islamic State holds sway. And he wants the establishment of no-fly zones and safe havens in Syria, as a way to battle both the Islamic State and dictator Bashar al-Assad.

That all sounds like a “major commitment” of something . And none of it addresses the fundamental problem in Iraq, which George W. Bush also failed to grasp: the lack of political reconciliation among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Bush 43’s vaunted “surge” was a Band-Aid that masked, but did not heal, this underlying wound.

Like the other Republican contenders, Jeb Bush opposes the Iran nuclear deal and promises to undo it — although he is equally silent about how the “better deal” that critics say they want could be achieved.

In general, as one might expect, Bush blames President Obama and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for basically all that is wrong with the world. Voters may have short memories, but I think they’ll remember it was Bush’s brother who shattered the Iraqi state and created the vacuum that the Islamic State came to fill. Voters might also recall that when Bush’s brother took office, Iran had no operational uranium enrichment centrifuges; when he left, Iran had about 4,000.

Jeb Bush tends to rush through his foreign policy speeches as if he’s checking boxes on a job application form. He becomes much more animated, and seems on more solid ground, when he’s talking about domestic issues. But remember that George W. Bush intended to have a domestic focus, too, before history decided otherwise.

Can Bush ever escape his brother’s shadow — or, for that matter, his father’s? I have serious doubts. For now, however, he’s busy enough trying to get out of Donald Trump’s wake.

Jeb! might think about adding more exclamation points to his logo. He’s running an utterly conventional campaign in an unconventional year, and frankly he seems to be putting a lot of Republican voters to sleep.

While other contenders for the nomination compete with front-runner Trump to say the most outrageous things and draw attention to themselves — a battle they’re not likely to win — Bush plods along. He made it to center stage at the first debate, right alongside Trump, but his performance was unexciting. If Bush declines to throw red meat to the activist Republican base, he’ll be better positioned to win the general election. But he’ll have a worse chance of making it through the primaries.

Recent state-level polls might not be enough to send Bush and his advisers into panic mode but definitely should make them pay attention. In Iowa, the Real Clear Politics polling average puts Bush at 7 percent — behind Trump, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz, and tied for sixth place with Marco Rubio. For a candidate with Bush’s thoroughbred pedigree and overstuffed bank account, that’s embarrassing.

And in New Hampshire, the Real Clear Politics average has Bush in second place behind Trump but just one point ahead of John Kasich, who suddenly seems to be challenging Bush for the “reasonable conservative” vote.

His brother’s name is already hurting Jeb Bush. His brother’s policies will hurt him more.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 14, 2014

August 15, 2015 Posted by | George W Bush, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Politics Of War”: We Endanger The Peace And Confuse All Issues When We Obscure The Truth

This Memorial Day the nation remembers all those people who died while serving in the American armed forces. More than 1,316,000 military personnel have died during military conflicts in this nation’s history.

The mission of the U.S. military is to fight and win our nation’s wars. The U.S. has the most powerful military in the history of the world, but it should not be utilized as a political tool, or for retribution. The government and its leaders must do their best to make the right decisions, to be truthful with the American people, and to provide all the necessary support needed to fulfill the military’s mission. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case.

Following the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush began to plan a response. Vice President Dick Cheney and neo-con members of the administration, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, immediately set their sites on Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s tyrannical ruler. They were disappointed that Hussein had not been toppled during the first Gulf War in 1991. Soon the administration made the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and that Hussein was linked to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

But the Bush administration was cherry picking raw intelligence, much of which was unverified. The “evidence” against Hussein was presented to Congress, which on October 11, 2002, passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Forces Against Iraq. In early 2003, the British and Spanish governments proposed a U.N. resolution that gave Iraq a deadline for compliance with previous resolutions on WMDs or face military actions. The resolution was withdrawn because France, Germany, Canada and Russia were opposed to military action; instead they called for further diplomacy. In early March, Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix said that progress had been made with the inspections and no WMD’s had been found in Iraq.

The administration, which rejected Blix’s assessment, began making the case for war to the American people. In February, President Bush conducted a series of interviews with news organizations, including the Spanish language channel Telemundo. I was the head of news for Telemundo at that time, and I was present for our session. The president told Telemundo’s Pedro Sevcec that he had not made a decision to go to war. Following the interview, I asked the president, “What about Jacques Chirac,” referring to the French president. President Bush swatted me on the shoulder with the back of his hand and said dismissively, “Oh, he’ll come around.” “We’re going to war,” I thought.

The American invasion of Iraq began on March 20. Vice President Cheney had predicted we would be greeted as liberators. He was wrong. The Iraqi forces were quickly defeated but the administration mismanaged the occupation. The Ba’athist government had collapsed, Hussein’s military was disarmed, and a power vacuum ensued. Sectarian violence broke out between the Shias and the Sunnis. U.S. backed Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, became Prime Minister in 2006, but his government alienated the country’s Sunni minority.

In 2007, President Bush implemented a troop surge in Iraq. By adding 20,000 additional U.S. troops, primarily in capital city Baghdad, the president hoped to buy time for reconciliation among the factions. The situation on the ground stabilized, but Sunnis still distrusted the Maliki government.

In 2008, the Bush administration negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq granting U.S. troops in the country legal immunities with the understanding the troops would be withdrawn by 2012. When negotiations began to extend U.S. military presence, only a smaller number, Maliki and various Iraqi party leaders agreed to the extended troop deployment, but did not want to continue the legal immunities. These immunities are a condition everywhere U.S. troops are based.

Some critics said President Barack Obama could have done more to secure the legal immunities, but that is debatable. In an interview on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) once again claimed an agreement could have been reached with Maliki through negotiations. Nonetheless, President Obama withdrew American combat troops and fulfilled a campaign promise.

The Maliki government collapsed in 2014. In the summer of 2014, ISIS, an Islamic terrorist group that had been incubating for more than a decade in Syria, launched a military offensive in Northern Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate. ISIS, which is Sunni, has slaughtered thousands of people in its expansion in the region. But many Iraqi Sunnis find ISIS preferable to the Shiite government in Baghdad.

Iraq under Hussein had served as a counter balance against Iran, its bitter enemy. With Hussein gone, Iran, a Shiite country, began working closely with the Shiite government in Baghdad. Iran’s influence in the region has grown, especially with the spread of ISIS. Iraq is in turmoil and it is unlikely all of the factions, including the Kurds in the north, will come together again.

The Iraq War has been costly. More than 4,500 members of the U.S military have been killed since the invasion. Hundreds of thousands of casualties have been suffered by Iraqis. Two years ago the “Costs of Wars” project, part of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, estimated that the Iraq War had already cost America more than $2 trillion. And many veterans of Iraq, who have returned home, are unemployed, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or have committed suicide.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and many Republican presidential candidates blame President Obama for today’s chaos in Iraq and the region. Yet these candidates do not offer a plan or a solution. In fact, former Senator Rick Santorum recently said, “If these folks (ISIS) want to return to a 7th-century version of Islam, then let’s load up our bombers and bomb them back to the 7th century.” ISIS and Iraq have turned into political fodder for the Republican base.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq, and subsequent mismanagement by the Bush administration, is the biggest mistake the U.S. has made since Vietnam. It has led to a series of unintended and disastrous consequences. And there is no light at the end of this tunnel for America.

Perhaps the architects of the Iraq War should have heeded the counsel of their spiritual leader, President Ronald Reagan. In a 1985 Veterans Day speech he said, “We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth.”

 

By: Joe Peyronnin, Hofstra Journalism Professor; The Blog, The Huffington Post, May 24, 2015

May 25, 2015 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Iraq War, Memorial Day, U. S. Military | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Fraternity Of Failure”: GOP Men And Women United By A Shared History Of Getting Everything Wrong, And Refusing To Admit It

Jeb Bush wants to stop talking about past controversies. And you can see why. He has a lot to stop talking about. But let’s not honor his wish. You can learn a lot by studying recent history, and you can learn even more by watching how politicians respond to that history.

The big “Let’s move on” story of the past few days involved Mr. Bush’s response when asked in an interview whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He answered that yes, he would. No W.M.D.? No stability after all the lives and money expended? No problem.

Then he tried to walk it back. He “interpreted the question wrong,” and isn’t interested in engaging “hypotheticals.” Anyway, “going back in time” is a “disservice” to those who served in the war.

Take a moment to savor the cowardice and vileness of that last remark. And, no, that’s not hyperbole. Mr. Bush is trying to hide behind the troops, pretending that any criticism of political leaders — especially, of course, his brother, the commander in chief — is an attack on the courage and patriotism of those who paid the price for their superiors’ mistakes. That’s sinking very low, and it tells us a lot more about the candidate’s character than any number of up-close-and-personal interviews.

Wait, there’s more: Incredibly, Mr. Bush resorted to the old passive-voice dodge, admitting only that “mistakes were made.” Indeed. By whom? Well, earlier this year Mr. Bush released a list of his chief advisers on foreign policy, and it was a who’s-who of mistake-makers, people who played essential roles in the Iraq disaster and other debacles.

Seriously, consider that list, which includes such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the war would cost almost nothing, and Michael Chertoff, who as director of the Department of Homeland Security during Hurricane Katrina was unaware of the thousands of people stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water.

In Bushworld, in other words, playing a central role in catastrophic policy failure doesn’t disqualify you from future influence. If anything, a record of being disastrously wrong on national security issues seems to be a required credential.

Voters, even Republican primary voters, may not share that view, and the past few days have probably taken a toll on Mr. Bush’s presidential prospects. In a way, however, that’s unfair. Iraq is a special problem for the Bush family, which has a history both of never admitting mistakes and of sticking with loyal family retainers no matter how badly they perform. But refusal to learn from experience, combined with a version of political correctness in which you’re only acceptable if you have been wrong about crucial issues, is pervasive in the modern Republican Party.

Take my usual focus, economic policy. If you look at the list of economists who appear to have significant influence on Republican leaders, including the likely presidential candidates, you find that nearly all of them agreed, back during the “Bush boom,” that there was no housing bubble and the American economic future was bright; that nearly all of them predicted that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight the economic crisis that developed when that nonexistent bubble popped would lead to severe inflation; and that nearly all of them predicted that Obamacare, which went fully into effect in 2014, would be a huge job-killer.

Given how badly these predictions turned out — we had the biggest housing bust in history, inflation paranoia has been wrong for six years and counting, and 2014 delivered the best job growth since 1999 — you might think that there would be some room in the G.O.P. for economists who didn’t get everything wrong. But there isn’t. Having been completely wrong about the economy, like having been completely wrong about Iraq, seems to be a required credential.

What’s going on here? My best explanation is that we’re witnessing the effects of extreme tribalism. On the modern right, everything is a political litmus test. Anyone who tried to think through the pros and cons of the Iraq war was, by definition, an enemy of President George W. Bush and probably hated America; anyone who questioned whether the Federal Reserve was really debasing the currency was surely an enemy of capitalism and freedom.

It doesn’t matter that the skeptics have been proved right. Simply raising questions about the orthodoxies of the moment leads to excommunication, from which there is no coming back. So the only “experts” left standing are those who made all the approved mistakes. It’s kind of a fraternity of failure: men and women united by a shared history of getting everything wrong, and refusing to admit it. Will they get the chance to add more chapters to their reign of error?

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 15, 2015

May 17, 2015 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Iraq War, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Very Low Bar”: The Smart Brother? Why Jeb Bush Can’t Escape Dubya’s Dubious Legacy

Being singled out as “the smart brother” in an American political and financial dynasty like the Bush family must be a heavy load. But Jeb Bush went far to dispel that burdensome description with his debut address on foreign policy. With its mélange of mispronunciations, mistakes, and casually ignorant utterances, Bush’s speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs instantly reminded listeners of the not-so-smart brother — the one who already became the second Bush president.

Such moments of recognition and remembrance are not auspicious for brother Jeb, whose burgeoning presidential ambition depends on persuading voters that he is emphatically not his brother George W. – or as he put it in an ad-libbed line: “I am my own man.” But his Chicago outing offered little to reassure Americans wary of the ruinous foreign policy record of the Bush-Cheney administration (an electoral subset that includes almost everyone).

Let’s start with the funny parts: Hoping presumably to move briskly past a certain disastrous trillion-dollar war, Jeb allowed that “mistakes were made in Iraq, for sure,” a remark so vague that even his brother, who once used a similar dodge in discussing torture at Abu Ghraib, would have to agree. Striving to demonstrate his familiarity with the new terror threats encircling the globe, he mentioned the Nigerian Islamist militants who call themselves “Boko Haram,” except he called them something that sounded a lot like “Beaucoup Haram.” Speaking of ISIS, the Syrian terrorist movement, he referred to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the guy that’s the supreme leader or whatever his new title is — head of the caliphate.” Overstating the military manpower of ISIS by a factor of 10, he said the group has 200,000 men under arms, when U.S. intelligence estimates no more than 20,000. (Before his spokesperson corrected that gaffe, it sounded as if he meant to instill fear with a mythical intelligence estimate – yet another déjà vu moment.)

At another point, he confused Iraq with Iran, a mistake anybody can make – and in this instance, a metaphor for his brother’s failed war, which vastly increased Iranian political, economic and military influence over Iraq.

What Bush failed to provide were specific policy ideas, sticking instead with platitudes about “strength” and “leadership.” Explaining how he would deal with ISIS, the former Florida governor kept it very simple: “We have to develop a strategy, that’s global, that takes them out. First, the strategy, you know, needs to be restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy.” Not much there for the Pentagon or the State Department, but at least he didn’t call it “strategery.”

The problem facing Jeb Bush is that to prove he is his own man in full, he must somehow erase many of his own previous positions and remarks.

Appearing on CNN in 2010, Jeb said of Dubya, “I have never disagreed with him…till death do us part.” Speaking about Iraq three years later, he claimed, “The war has wound down now and it’s still way too early to judge what successes it had in providing some degree of stability in the region” (a statement that can only provoke bitter laughter today). “During incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe,” he said in praise of Dubya at the 2012 Republican convention, as if 9/11 and that fateful Presidential Daily Briefing had never happened.

There are other clues to his policy predilections. For his entire career, Jeb has blindly advocated the Cuba sanctions policy that we have finally abandoned after 50 years of failure. That advocacy included a disgraceful episode in which he sought clemency from his presidential father for a bloody anti-Castro terrorist pursued by the U.S. Justice Department.

In keeping with that same foolishness was his early backing of the Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, pulled together in 1997 by William Kristol, the Washington pundit best known for being wrong about everything – in particular the costs, difficulties, and results of invading Iraq. As the chief publicist for that war, Kristol told us it would be easy, cheap, and hugely successful. Dubya believed him and evidently so did Jeb.

That is an old story — but the putative Republican frontrunner recently released a list of his foreign policy advisors, which bizarrely features Paul Wolfowitz, Dubya’s deputy defense secretary and another PNAC enthusiast. Jeb’s campaign is proudly displaying the same old gang of advisors who turned the last Republican administration into wreckage.

Maybe Jeb really is the smart brother. So far, however, he shows no sign of being smart enough to avoid that other brother’s devastating mistakes.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, February 20, 2015

February 22, 2015 Posted by | George W Bush, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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