As Jeb Bush finally announces his candidacy, six months and $100 million into his campaign, it’s time to reflect on just what kind of a man Jeb Bush has revealed himself to be over the past thirty years, what he really believes and will translate into policy. Specifically, American foreign policy, any discussion of has the legacy of George W. Bush hanging ominously over it.
Jeb Bush talks big when it comes to foreign policy, railing against President Obama’s reasonable and pragmatic approach to diplomacy. But his complete inexperience in matters of foreign policy became very clear during the past month, when he royally flubbed an interview with FOX’s Megyn Kelly, telling her that knowing what he knows now, he still would have invaded Iraq in 2003. He then backtracked multiple times, and was publicly schooled by a college student for attempting to blame the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) on President Obama, rather than the catastrophic invasion that his brother George orchestrated.
Not only has he publicly stated that his brother is his most trusted foreign policy adviser, he has hired a team to help compensate for lack of experience- and nineteen out of twenty-one of them worked for his father or brother. The words “I’m my own man” never felt so hollow.
The only foreign policy notes on his resume are his efforts in the late 90s to help found the Project For A New American Century, a neo-conservative think thank that helped articulate the case to go to war against Saddam Hussein, along with Donald Rumsfeld and the patriarch of the neo-conservative coven himself, Paul Wolofowitz- who he has hired to advise his 2016 campaign. With them, he signed a letter asking President Clinton to go to war with Iraq- in 1998. When that didn’t happen, Wolfowitz accompanied George W. to the White House and began planning the disastrous war that would plunge our nation into debt, kill thousands of people on both sides and destabilized an entire region.
In addition, in 1989, Jeb Bush was involved in a deal to sell $80 million of water pump equipment to the Nigerian government through a company called MWI. His partner was later the subject of a Justice Department investigation for fraud and bribery of a foreign government, helping to undermine transparency in one of Africa’s most corrupt nations. While never implicated personally, it’s just another mark of the shady business practices that have characterized Jeb Bush’s career.
Since the beginning of his campaign, Jeb has been adopting some of the orthodox war hawk rhetoric that is obligatory for any Republican candidate. He’s heavily criticized President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list of state-sponsored terrorism (which it hasn’t been involved in for twenty years) and the nuclear negotiations with Iran, but hasn’t offered any real alternatives. The Huffington Post reported that multiple advisers, including “former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who works for the Chertoff Group, and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, retired Adm. Robert Natter and Tom Ridge, the first Homeland Security secretary — the latter three all run their own consulting firms. All of these men also sit on the boards of companies ready to reap huge rewards from defense, intelligence and security contracts.”
These types of men accompanied George W. Bush into office, and reaped huge profits from the Iraq War and the privatization of military operations. It’s all too likely that a similar situation will repeat itself during a Jeb Bush presidency. It’s time for America to stand up and say that we do not want a third Bush presidency, considering the damage that the last one did to our nation and the world.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.