By his collapsing poll numbers, despite his intense campaigning, we know that Jeb Bush might be one of the worst candidates of all time. But, sometimes, bad politicians make good elected officials. So, the question remains, would Jeb Bush make a good Commander in Chief?
I had planned to write an op-ed critiquing his major foreign policy speech from this week, in which Bush falsely pinned blame for ISIS on President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and gave a terrible vision of what he would do different. These plans would include arming "Syrian moderates" who our intelligence says don't exist. I had planned to explain why the surge was a failure in Iraq, and was merely an attempt to hand the situation off to the next administration.
But, as Jeb Bush is prone to do, he stepped all over his speech just 24 hours later by saying, "I'll tell you, taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal." Thus, Jeb erased the entire speech he just delivered.
First, it's entirely obvious now that the Iraq War was a horrible deal for the United States, the thousands of lives we lost, and the thousands more who came home wounded and maimed, inside and out. Jeb dishonored all of them with his comments.
Further, this all calls into question -- again -- where he actually stands on the war in Iraq. If he truly thinks that it was a "good deal" for us, then he also must believe that he's lying when he says that he wouldn't have launched the war in Iraq, knowing then what we do now.
After all, if what we know now is that we ended up with a "good deal," then of course he'd do it all over again. With his brother's neoconservative advisors by his side, we can't be shocked that this is his real position. Yet, in the debate and his speech this week, he went through great pains to say he'd avoid the war in Iraq. They say a gaffe is when a politician tells you what they really think. I've never seen a clearer example of that, than in Jeb's latest comment.
The truth of the matter is that Jeb Bush has no idea what he's talking about. None.
The war in Iraq was a horrible deal for the people in the region, who now have to face the threat of ISIS -- a force more brutal than Saddam Hussein could even dream up. ISIS was born the day we overthrew Saddam. This is something that Jeb clearly doesn't grasp. The second he was gone, was the second when the lid was off on a sectarian war to fill the power vacuum, leading to formation of Sunni terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda in Iraq and the Nusra Front, which crossed over into Syria, and elements of which went on to help form ISIS.
For all those who fear ISIS, overthrowing Saddam was not a "pretty good deal."
The moment we overthrew Saddam, and moved to quick elections, was the moment that the Iranians were handed a government in Baghdad. It wasn't dissimilar to forced, quick Palestinian elections that put Hamas in power. Short of any peace between Shia and Sunni, it was a foregone conclusion that the government would be controlled by the Shia, friendly to the Iranians next door, because the Sunnis wouldn't turn out to vote. Iranians were free to send weapons across the border, to kill our troops, while the government of Nouri al-Maliki essentially looked the other way.
For our troops, and those worried about increased Iranian influence in the region, overthrowing Saddam was not a "pretty good deal."
Further, the Shia government soon began exacting revenge on the Sunni minority, which had oppressed them for decades, in Iraq. Sunnis were driven out of positions of power, and driven from the military, leading to the weakened and ill-prepared Iraqi Army that we see today. I spent my second tour in Iraq training the Iraqi Army, only to see it decimated because of sectarianism. Now, when I see the Iraqi Army flee from ISIS, it pains me, greatly, because it was always a near guarantee that as soon as we left, Maliki would wipe Sunni commanders out of the Army.
For the security of the region, overthrowing Saddam was not a "pretty good deal."
So, exactly for whom was overthrowing Saddam a good deal? The Iranians, who no longer had Saddam containing them, and who now have an ally in Baghdad. Sunni terror groups, who feed off Sunni fears of the Iranian-friendly Shia government, and power vacuums. And those Shia who see power as an opportunity to exact revenge against the Sunni who dominated them for centuries, in the region.
That Jeb considers this -- in any way -- to be a good deal for the United States is the core of why Jeb Bush is not qualified to be the Commander in Chief. Anyone who thinks the war in Iraq was a "pretty good deal" should be nowhere near the command structure of the United States military, ordering our men and women in uniform into harm's way, lest they send our men and women to sacrifice their lives for another neoconservative failure.