Jeb Returns to His Neocon Roots: Vows to Finish Mideast Wars His Brother Started

A new Bush Doctrine, same as the old Bush Doctrine

Always Wrong: PNAC founders, from left, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld,  Paul Wolfowitz
Always Wrong: PNAC founders, from left, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
Five days after calling his brother George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq a “mistake” and saying he “wouldn’t have gone in,” Jeb Bush announced to a war-weary nation that he’s running for president not just to become the third Bush in the White House, but also to be the third Bush president to invade the Middle East.

In a speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., yesterday Bush announced essentially that, if elected, he would revive the Bush Doctrine, the plan concocted by George W. Bush, Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, and other neoconservatives that called for using military force to subjugate the Middle East under the guise of democratizing it but with the real intention of control its “strategic interests,” which is to say its oil reserves.

(If that sounds cynical, imagine a world in which Iraq, Saudi Arabia and their neighbors controlled the world’s largest supply of olive oil, rather than petroleum oil. If so, would we have invaded twice in the last 20 years?)

In his speech in Simi Valley, Jeb Bush ignored the disastrous consequences of his brother’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and focused on one of the costly misadventure’s few nominal successes, the 2007 “surge,” during which the Bush and Cheney deployed an additional 30,000 troops into the war zone.

“It was a success, brilliant, heroic, and costly,” Jeb Bush said, “and this nation will never forget the courage and sacrifice that made it all possible.” In other words, flooding the field worked when my brother did it in 2007, so it’s bound to work again when I do it in 2017.

As Bush and Cheney did in the run-up to their invasion, Jeb laid out a strategy for military intervention in the Mideast wars that depends almost entirely on the cooperation of peace- and democracy-loving moderates in the region. Bush is as certain now as his brother was 12 years ago that these moderates will view the U.S. invaders as liberators and join forces with the occupiers to fight for the cause of democracy and freedom in the region.

“Under my strategy, the aim would be to draw the moderates together and back them up, as one force,” Bush said. “And we should back that force up all the way through – not just in taking the fight to the enemy, but in helping them to form a stable, moderate government once ISIS is defeated and Assad is gone. It’s a tough, complicated diplomatic and military proposition, even more so than the current situation in Iraq. But it can be done. We saw in the Iraq surge how Islamic moderates can be pulled away from extremist forces. And the strategic elements in both cases are the same – we have to support local forces, and we must stay true to our word.”

Jeb is attempting to rewrite history here. The surge was unsustainable because American voters had no appetite for the perpetual occupation of Iraq that neocons advocated — a decades-long commitment that would leave American troops on the ground in Iraq, similar to the residual forces that have been stationed in Korea, Japan and Germany for more than a half-century. As soon as the surge ended, the centuries-old war between the sectarian factions resumed, and eventually escalated with the standing up of ISIS.

Not surprisingly, Jeb’s campaign promise to return the United States to a state of perpetual war barely made news. Instead, the headlines about his speech focused on his laying blame for the disastrous consequences of his brother’s decision to invade Iraq — a decision that has been called the worst foreign policy and military blunder in U.S. history — on Pres. Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

When Jeb made a similar claim in May, Politfact labeled it “mostly false,” (which is how the right-leaning fact checker labels statements by conservatives that are 100 percent false).

“Obama inherited a timeline to exit Iraq from George W. Bush and followed it,” wrote Politifact’s Joshua Gillin, “but there was no agreement to leave a large force behind. The Obama White House considered 10,000 troops for a short time but ruled it out, suggesting a much smaller force. Negotiations with Iraq broke down, however, and there was no agreement that met conditions Washington wanted.” (As you can see in Gillin’s own bottom-line assessment, Jeb’s claim was just false, not “mostly false.”)

Underlying all this is a fundamental fact about Jeb’s foreign policy bona fides that routinely goes unmentioned by the political media establishment. Like Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other future architects of W. Bush’s Iraq War debacle, Jeb was a founding signatory in 1997 of the Project for a New American Century, a think tank funded by energy companies to promote never-ending war in the Middle East.

It is hard to imagine a more discredited group than the PNACers, whose pie-in-the-sky promises that invading Iraq would be a cake walk led to the needless fatalities and maiming of thousands of American soldiers as well as the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, not to mention a cost to American taxpayers of $2 trillion and counting, a sum that Bush and Cheney piled onto the U.S. deficit by borrowing it from the Chinese government and others.

In a more authoritarian society, the war architects would be in prison, or worse. In a just society, they would be permanently shunned. In our society, however, they appear to be tanned and rested, and poised for a comeback.

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