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Jeb Bush on War & Peace

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect


OpEd: Not distancing himself from brother's Afghan policy

On 5 talk shows Sunday morning, Jeb Bush reminded America why he'll never be president: it's hard to distance yourself from your own last name. "I don't think there's any Bush baggage at all," Jeb said; adding that "history will be kind to George W. Bush."

To seriously challenge for the presidency, a Republican will have to pointedly distance himself from Jeb's older brother: acknowledging that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. No Republican will be able to promise foreign-policy competence unless he or she acknowledges the Bush administration's disastrous mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It won't be enough for a candidate merely to keep his or her distance from W: Romney tried that and failed. To seriously compete, the next Republican candidate for president will have to repudiate key aspects of Bush's legacy. Jeb Bush would find that excruciatingly hard even if he wanted to. And as his interviews Sunday make clear, he doesn't event want to try.

Source: Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast , Mar 11, 2013

Over time, people will respect our resolve in Iraq

Q: We're coming up on the ten-year anniversary of the war in Iraq which is widely seen in public opinion polls as a mistake. Do you think that will ever change?

BUSH: Yes. You know, a lot of things in history change over time. I think people will respect the resolve that my brother showed, both in defending the country and the war in Iraq. But history will judge that in a more objective way than today. The war has wound down now and it's still way too early to judge what success it had in providing some degree of stability in the region.

Source: CNN SOTU 2013 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

Encourage regime change in Iran; keep military option open

Military options must be left on the table to force Iran's leaders to abandon their nuclear ambitions, according to Jeb Bush. The US should be much more assertive in encouraging regime change there as well, he said.

Bush said that not maintaining the viable prospect of US military action "empowers bad behavior in Tehran amongst its leaders." Bush criticized the Obama administration for failing to encourage internal resistance to Iran's mullahs. Iran's theocrats have subjected the "green movement" protesters to a series of brutal crackdowns.

"I think we need to be much more aggressive in supporting civil opposition to the regime in Iran," Bush said. "I was saddened to see how the Obama administration handled the post-election revolution on the streets. It seemed like we were very tepid, at a time when we should forcefully support freedom. It's part of who we are as a nation, and I think we should embrace this noble notion: If not for the United States, who? Who will be there to help?"

Source: David A. Patten and Kathleen Walter on Newsmax.com , Nov 29, 2010

Opposed Vietnam War; considered Conscientious Objection

He was a millionaire by the time he was 35, but he doesn't much care about money except for its ability to bring him the two things he does crave: power, and the thrill of winning it. He opposed the Vietnam War, to the point that he seriously considered registering as a conscientious objector rather than submitting to the draft--but nevertheless has received the same electoral support of the active and retired military traditionally enjoyed by his family.
Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 3 , Feb 15, 2007

Disliked Andover because of Vietnam-era campus turmoil

Jeb actively chose a different path than his father. After Andover, which he disliked because of the Vietnam-era campus turmoil that marked his time there, Jeb went to the University of Texas for college, ostensibly to be closer to the Mexican girl he had met during an Andover program his senior year. Upon graduating, Jeb chose the banking business, spending 5 years at Texas Commerce Bank, including 2 at the bank's Venezuela branch in Caracas. After coming home in 1979 to work on his dad's unsuccessful run for president, Jeb settled in Miami--again, to escape his father's shadow in Texas--and got into real estate, a business his father had never entered.
Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 74 , Feb 15, 2007

1998: Declined to call for invading Iraq to depose Saddam

Jeb's views on, say, the 3rd World debt crisis or the appropriateness of the World Court are a blank slate. That said, there are clear clues as to how Jeb would handle foreign affairs.

Jeb supported the covert American effort to supply the right-wing militias making up the Nicaraguan contras in the mid-1980s. He has long supported the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba. In 1997, he signed onto the Project for a New American Century, a group that included many of the neoconservative architects of the Iraq invasion, which called for a "Reaganite" foreign policy of military strength and "moral clarity"--although in 1998, the year he was running a second time for Florida governor, he was not a signatory to the group's call to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.328 , Feb 15, 2007

1971: Troubled by LBJ's Vietnam, but registered to serve

The flames of 1968 seemingly had no effect on George W. Jeb wasn't so sure.

The fact of it was, Jeb was deeply troubled by Vietnam and Johnson's handling of it. So troubled, in fact, that in the coming years, not only did he not sign right up to join the infantry but instead he was seriously considering filing for conscientious objector status, and wanted to run it past his dad.

To George H. W. Bush's credit, and notwithstanding his later, withering criticism of those who did not fight, he told Jeb that he would support whatever decision he made. George said, 'Whatever you decide, I will back you 100%.'"

In late 1971, Jeb, a lanky 18-year-old with hair longer than his parents might have liked, decided to back his father's political career. He went to Houston to get his physical. Had Nixon & Congress not wound down the draft, Jeb would likely have been called up. So he can argue that although he wrestled with the prospects of fighting in a war, in the end he did the right thing by his country.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.332-334 , Feb 15, 2007

Easy to criticize Iraq war after the fact

Under top security, Gov. Jeb Bush spent Easter in Iraq with troops from Florida, reuniting with 338 Florida National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq. Bush’s surprise visit comes at a time of mounting discontent about the handling of the war effort by his brother, George W. Bush. Jeb Bush said: “In a mission this ambitious, and this extensive, is it possible that mistakes were made? Of course it is. After the fact, it’s easy to harp and to criticize, and, frankly, people have the right to do it.”
Source: Steve Bousquet in St. Petersburg Times, “Visit Troops” , Apr 15, 2006

1972: considered conscientious objector status

In 1972 Jeb, then 18, had pulled a low lottery number in the draft--number 26--and he told his parents that he was thinking of becoming a conscientious objector. As Barbara Bush recounted in 1984, "George said, `Whatever you decide, I will do. I will back you 100%.'" But the family was spared its crisis. The draft for Vietnam ended one day before Jeb, who had already passed his physical, might have been called. When Jeb ran for governor of Florida years later, he disputed his mother's recollection.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.240 , Sep 14, 2004

God grants liberty only to ready to defend it

Last month, we welcomed home almost 2,000 soldiers of the Florida National Guard from the war on terror. Some won't make it home. It has been said, "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to defend it." Because of the thousands who continue the fight, America will always be free.

We must acknowledge the great debt we owe patriots like [our lost soldiers]. We should honor their service by ensuring that our actions, both in and out of this chamber, are worthy of their sacrifice. We must serve this state as honorably and effectively as they serve this country. I believe we are on the right path.

Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the Florida Legislature , Mar 2, 2004

Extend international order friendly to our security.

Bush signed Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles

Conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

  1. we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
  2. we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
  3. we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
  4. we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Source: PNAC Principles 97-PNAC-WP on Jun 3, 1997

Other candidates on War & Peace: Jeb Bush on other issues:
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Page last updated: Aug 18, 2014