Jeb Bush is currently touring Europe. With his “Statesman’s” glasses, former Governor Jeb Bush is taking every photo op he can muster in order to project a learned, but tough on defense image. The bad guys while in Europe are the Russians. While this is a safer position than getting involved talking about ISIS or the Middle East, Bushes comments beg many questions.
For example, Bush said he thought the US should increase its troop level in Europe. Hmmm.
Bush said that recent Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine should not go unnoticed. When asked should the US station troops on the Russia boarders, he replied “I don’t know yet”. What more does he need to know? What would he think about Russian troops in Cuba, Venezuela, or some other nearby Latin American country?
Beyond the obvious chest pounding and “how much better a President I would be compared to President Obama” symbolism, Bush’s comments seem shallow and poorly thought through. These are comments anyone could have already made from the US mainline. There was no need for a trip to Europe to suddenly gain this insight. (Most reasoned Statesmen, however, would keep this type of blustering demagoguing under control since there are limits to what the US can do without encountering an equal and opposite response from Russia.
Possibly the most cynical aspect of Bush’s comments, of course, comes back to the simple question, “how do you propose to pay for these increases in defense spending”?
It should be no surprise that Bush would either propose cuts in entitlements or emergency spending (code for putting the cost on the credit card and increasing the debt). There would be no references to increased taxes.
Bush’s comments sound attractive, almost leadership wise. They are, however, typical of what we are going to hear from most all the GOP candidates. Wrapping the American flag around themselves and proposing extending American presences around the world, this rhetoric sounds great. In addition to the patriotic appeal, GOP politicians will imply a contrast with President Obama and how today’s complicated world could have been different had one of them been President instead of President Obama. Hmmm.
Jeb Bush’s comments come as no surprise. What else would a candidate do in similar circumstances? IMO, Bush knows the shallowness of his comments and knows the complications reluctant American citizens could bring to anyone proposing more military engagements. Bush’s comments provide a “political lesson” should other GOP hopefuls want to learn.
Extending America’s military reach will be both dangerous and expensive, and come with a wide range of unanticipated consequences. With a political base that does not want to see any increase in taxes and has been condition to expect a decrease in the debt, there is no way Bush can accomplish these overseas moves without draconian cuts in entitlements.
Grandpas and grandmas get ready, your social security and Medicare will soon be in play.