In a recent interview with Megan Kelly on FoxNews, Jeb Bush not only defended his brother’s choice to invade Iraq in 2003, he said he would repeat the decision “knowing what we know now.”
“I would’ve, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got…if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those.”
This places him in direct conflict with the views of his likely rival in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul:
“We seem to have a recurring question in the Middle East, whether or not it’s a good idea to topple a secular strong man or secular dictators. And what happens after that? Hilary Clinton’s war in Lybia was the same scenario. We toppled Qadafi, the secular dictator, but we got chaos and the rise of radical islam and I think we’re more threatened now. But I think the same was true of Sadam Hussien. I think Iran is now stronger and emboldened. In many ways Iraq is sort of a vassel state to Iran…I think we’re a lot worse of with Hussien gone.”
Rand went on to talk about Assad in Syria and the rise of ISIS. While he supports some form of US intervention to stop ISIS now, Paul believes US policy played a role in creating the conditions for ISIS to grow and wants the ultimate military solution to include Arab forces. His broader point is that the US should not make it a standard policy to unilaterally burn down governments in the Middle East and hope something better rises out of the ashes, even if those governments are led by people we generally don’t like or approve of, because we tend to end up with something worse than what we started with. The law of unintended consequences at its finest (worst?).
Jeb Bush has since tried to walk back his comments on the Iraq War, after receiving heavy criticism. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Bush said that he misunderstood the question but stopped short of saying that he would not have chosen to invade even knowing what we know now.
Hannity: In other words, in 20/20 hindsight, you would make a different decision?
Bush: Ya I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical, but mistakes were made. [emphasis added]
The fact that Bush was so heavily criticized by Republicans suggests that Rand Paul’s message of less US intervention in foreign wars might play better in a Republican primary than media pundits traditionally assume. Regardless, the issue will almost certainly be a key point of debate ahead of the 2016 election.
Jeb was recently confronted by a college student at a town hall event who told him, “Your brother created ISIS.“