Yesterday, so early in the 2016 Presidential nomination process, Jeb Bush’s claim to be his own man was put in question. Thanks to Jeb Bush’s truthful and candid answers to reporters questions, voters now know that a Jeb Bush Presidency will follow a foreign policy similar if not identical to that of George W Bush.
Gaining this confirmation, so early in the nomination process, will provide voters with a clear warning about what to expect if Jeb Bush becomes the nominee and eventually wins the election.
The issue at hand is described as “America taking a lead in world affairs”. What does he mean? According to the Washington Post, Jeb Bush would not be on speaking terms with Cuba, tighten sanctions on Iran, and partner more closely with Israel. Bush would deploy more NATO assets in Eastern Europe and would use the military to root out “barbarians” and “evil doers” around the globe. Sound like the “axis of evil” speech by “W”?
This foreign policy view has a very rational sound. When the US acts preemptively and with force, adversaries are put on the defense, and potential adversaries think twice before acting provocatively. So, if ones view is that the US is a basically “good” nation which should serve as a model for other nations to follow, then what better way to conduct foreign affairs than to lead?
Bush’s views are not new or unique to him. The “neoconservative” movement which propelled the George W Bush Administration into the Iraq invasion and occupation documented their foreign policy views before “W” was elected in a document (PNAC – Project for the New American Century). PNAC was signed by among others Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and yes, Jeb Bush).
In considering this “preemptive” foreign policy, voters would do well to remember the disastrous outcome of the Iraq invasion and occupation. Even if one ascribes only the noblest of intentions, the Iraq regime change has unlocked the Middle East pandora’s box of unintended consequences. Also, the expansion of NATO has spooked Russian conservatives and facilitated Russia President Putin to foreign interventions under the guise of protecting the motherland. And, with this view of preemptive action, what does one think a “no deal” with Iran on nuclear weapons will mean?
On a separate basis, the Jeb Bush’s foreign policy does not come cheap. What does one think will happen when a Jeb Bush Administration has to pay for the military size necessary to carry off such a foreign policy (assuming it would be possible in the first place)? Will it be more debt like “W” chose, reductions in all other non-defense government spending, or higher taxes?
Bush and the GOP will target President Obama’s foreign policy, sometimes referred to as “leading from behind”. The President’s policies will be labeled “weak”, “naive”, and “misdirected” whereas a preemptive policy will be billed as “bold”, assertive, and above all, based upon what is right (Americans want to be right).
These are just a war of words which conceal the reality that Bush’s policies are no longer affordable nor do they make sense with global nature of world economics. The US simply can’t confront every threat every place in the world and could not afford to pay the bill if it were possible.
Jeb Bush may continue to say he is his own man but his words suggest something quite similar to his brother. Jeb can run but he can’t hide from “W’s” recent history and foreign policy failures.
Bush’s words, of course, may seem strong and may harken back to America’s pride emanating from our WWII and Cold War strength, but that simply is not 21st century reality.
For Democrats, however, how will they describe their foreign policy?