Shortly following the launch of his presidential campaign, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush struggled to answer questions about whether or not he would have followed in brother George W. Bush’s footsteps and invaded Iraq in 2003. At the time, Bush had responded, “Knowing what we know now, I would have not engaged.” It almost sounded like Jeb was aware of the fact that his brother had plunged our nation into a catastrophe.
He has then embarked on a misinformation campaign to rewrite the narrative and gloss over his brother’s war crimes that were committed during the Iraq War- the countless civilians that lost their lives to American contractors, the widespread use of torture and abuse of prisoners of war, the American soldiers that were knowingly sent into contaminated and toxic sites.
If a moment of clarity was what brought Jeb Bush to that statement, it didn’t last long. It seems that the Republican presidential candidate has had a change of heart this week, because he flip-flopped…again. During a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, Bush watered the Iraq War down to a simple “miscalculation” and then had the audacity to blame President Barack Obama for ISIS and every other consequence that followed. Claiming that the real mistake was taking U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011, Bush said:
“So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary? That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill — and that Iran has exploited to the full as well.”
In his speech, Bush decided to rewrite history and claim that the situation in Iraq was just peachy until “failed peacemakers” Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went and ruined it. He asked his audience:
“Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the president and Secretary Clinton—the storied ‘team of rivals’—took office?”
Bush accused the powerful Democratic pair of being “so eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers. It was a case of blind haste to get out.”
Bush strategically left out one very important piece of information in his version of history: the fact that it was his older brother who made the decision to withdraw U.S. troops in 2011. Obama was simply honoring those negotiations, and allowed some U.S. military to stay behind in Iraq for support. Obama’s intentions weren’t able to be carried out completely because the Iraqi government pushed for the majority of the U.S. troops to withdraw by the end of the year, but to this day thousands of U.S. soldiers and military contractors remain in the Middle Eastern country.
In his speech, Bush also delivered criticism for Obama’s foreign policy and promised to “immediately” undo Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement if he got into the White House.
Bush’s history edits haven’t gone unnoticed. Jake Sullivan, senior policy adviser to Clinton’s presidential campaign, referenced the legacy of Bush’s brother and said:
“It’s curious that Governor Bush is choosing Iraq as the place where he wants to engage in a foreign policy debate. It’s an attempt to rewrite history. They might hope we’ll all forget but the American people will remember.”
Jeb Bush has tried to paint himself as his “own man”, free from the history his brother and father have left behind. He doesn’t seem to live by his assertions, though – considering that he still doesn’t feel confident on foreign policy unless he gets feedback from George W. Bush. His campaign’s advisers also happen to be the very architects of the Iraq War. If Jeb Bush gets into the White House, be prepared to re-live George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency all over again.
Colin Taylor is the 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.