It could be the Summer of Trump that's responsible. Our already easily distracted media culture is on tilt from the advent of "The Donald" as Republican presidential frontrunner.
The rise of his Big Mouth/Big Money campaign not only speaks volumes about the devolutionary state of our politics, it's created a goofball kind of hysteria. Still, it's odd that the vast majority of the coverage of Jeb Bush's attack on Hillary Clinton -- which he launched Tuesday night at a Reagan Library speech outside LA and continued in subsequent appearances and interviews -- doesn't mention some very big news. The wannabe dynast wants the US to get heavily involved in yet another Middle Eastern war.
That would be the Syrian civil war, against President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is battling Isis. The rise of which John Ellis "JEB" Bush is trying to blame on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In a speech at the Reagan Library outside Los Angeles, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tried again to spin up a winning argument on the Iraq debacle. He blamed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the rise of Isis and, in a move largely missed by the media, called for US intervention in the Syrian civil war.
The media has gotten the "blame Hillary" part of Jeb's equation down. Not hard, since it's his attempt to play "Who Lost Iraq?" without forfeiting right off on account of the settled stupidity of his brother's administration invading Iraq in the first place. The Syria stuff, though, went whizzing right over most people's heads.
Frankly, no one named Bush should be proposing anything in the Middle East. Especially a Bush who has 17 of 21 formally named geopolitical advisors who are alumni of the Bush/Cheney administration. And especially a Bush who also started out in the spring defending the boneheaded invasion, the first of five different statements on Iraq he made that week before finally admitting it was a disastrous idea.
As it happens, we're already, under the Obama administration, training some Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, at the behest of that longtime ally of the Bush family which is every bit as insistent as Israel in pushing an agenda for American action in the Middle East. But Bush wants more, to send weapons, create a no-fly zone over Syria, and establish "safe zones" within Syria guaranteed by US arms.
That would put us against opponents of the group Bush claims he has a top priority in defeating. And it would infuriate the Syrian regime's longtime allies Iran and Russia.
But coherence is not exactly a hallmark of Bushian interventionism. And at some point it may occur to us that keeping the world riled up is a fundamental part of the Bush agenda.
So is Hillary responsible for the rise of Isis? Er, no.
True, the US did not leave a large residual force behind in Iraq after the main force withdrawal. But the withdrawal was actually set by George W. Bush. And it was the Bush/Cheney administration's handpicked Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who refused to allow the US to leave any significant force behind.
He turned out to be much more pro-Iranian than pro-American. Just like Ahmed Chalabi, who provided mucho bogus intel to the Bush/Cheney administration in the run-up to the 2003 US invasion. Maliki's pro-Shiite, anti-Sunni stance as prime minister did much to drive the rise of Isis.
Where President Barack Obama can be blamed is in wasting months in analysis/paralysis and pointless diplomatic maneuvering before launching air strikes against Isis. The Isis forces which rampaged across Iraq and Syria were not guerrillas as we think of them from the Vietnam War. They were motorized infantry, often moving across open country, very prone to devastation from air attacks, as I wrote at the time.
But none of that is Hillary Clinton's fault. She was long gone as secretary of state.
Now we're attacking, of course, but it's much harder to win from the air when going against established facts on the ground. Especially when the Iraqi Army -- despite the billions Bush and Cheney spent on it, not to mention Obama's more recent efforts to help rebuild it -- is a battlefield bust.
Jeb Bush is trying to say now that the Iraq War was won by the "surge" of 2007, when five Army brigades of additional combat troops were sent to strategic areas of the country, Marine deployments were extended, and vast sums of money were paid to Sunni militant leaders.
That decreased violence in Iraq for a while, as you might expect. But it was not a sustainable situation, the Sunni militants didn't stay bought, and a viable and fair Iraqi state -- something unlikely in what became, during the US occupation, one of the most corrupt places on the planet -- was no further along than before.
What the surge did was allow us to get out without having to jump for helicopter skids from the roof of the US embassy.
The problem for Jeb Bush is that, as another well-known politician once said, facts are stubborn things. He can twist and turn on this, but the more he does, the more grist for the mill he creates.
Of course, his other big problem is actually winning the Republican nomination. For all Hillary Clinton's undoubted stumbles, she has been a far more impressive performer than Bush.
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