It was a simple question, akin to asking Mary Todd Lincoln, “Mrs. Lincoln now that you know what you know would you or your husband still attend Ford’s Theater on April 15, 1865. It is like asking the passengers of the Titanic “knowing full well the fate of the vessel, would you still board the ship on that particular day for that particular voyage.”
Hardly a “gotcha question”, the query was asked in a straight forward manner by a source friendly to the interviewee who is by all accounts a seasoned politician. The question was even repeated to ensure the interviewee every opportunity to understand, comprehend and appropriately respond. The question was “[K]nowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion of Iraq?
The answer should have been a simple “no, knowing what we know now, I would not have authorized the invasion of Iraq.” Instead the response was “yes, I still would have authorized the invasion and so would have Hillary Clinton … and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.” www.msnbc.com/msnbc/jeb-bushs-iraq-war-take-raises-more-questions-it-answers.
The response evoked widespread condemnation, even from fellow Republicans. Since then Jeb’s answer has repeatedly changed. A day after the response a long time friend and associate advanced the idea that Jeb misunderstood the question. He then amended the original answer to “there were clear mistakes related to faulty intelligence in the lead up to the war and the lack of focus on security.” He has subsequently responded “I don’t know what the occasion would have been because the question is hypothetical.”
He further claimed that with the fall of Hussein, the world is a safer place and even blamed President Obama for the creation of ISIS. Finally, he belatedly gave the answer that should have been given in the first place, i.e. “no, knowing what we now know, I would not have authorized the invasion of Iraq.” See www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/politics/jeb-bush-iraq-election-2016-foreign-policy/index and www.cnn.com/2015/05/13/opinions/begala-jeb-w-bush/index.html.
Blaming President Obama, who opposed to the war with creating ISIS is more than a stretch. Had the invasion and subsequent occupation not occurred, there would be no ISIS. And Hillary has already admitted that she made a mistake she now regrets and would not repeat.
More importantly, the invasion was not sold on a mere concern about weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration also argued that Hussein had links 9/11 and possessed nuclear weapons with the intent and ability to deploy them against America. Who can forget Condoleezza Rice’s warnings about mushroom clouds or Vice President Cheney’s assertions that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program? http://zfacts.com/iraq-war-quotes or http://usiraq.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000681.
Equally as significant, the intelligence peddled by the Bush Administration was not faulty. It was instead false and misleading. Neither Congress nor the American people were given the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Information that supported the invasion was overstated and evidence to the contrary intentionally withheld or concealed. And not even Jeb argues that the occupation was well-managed.
The Iraqi invasion was instead the worst foreign policy decision in our nation’s history. “It costs thousands of American’s lives and trillions of dollars over eight years, increased ethnic tensions in the region, did not result in the democratization of Iraq, expanded Iran’s sphere of influence and directly led to the birth of ISIS. See www.msnbc.com/msnbc/jeb-bushs-iraq-war-take-raises-more-questions-it-answers. And the world is not safer after Saddam’s demise, Jeb’s assertion notwithstanding. It is worse, far worse.
Yet, the architects of the war are unrepentant. And they hold crucial positions in Jeb’s inner circle. His top advisor on US-Israeli relations is his brother, the man who ordered the Iraq invasion. And 17 of Jeb’s 21 foreign policy advisors served in his brother’s administration, one of whom is Paul Wolfowitz. Not only was Mr. Wolfowitz and that close to Jeb a little wrong about a few minor things, they were disastrously wrong about everything.
“George Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense, a top conspiracy theorist and prominent neo-con cheerleader of the invasion, Mr. Wolfowitz was a prime advocate for Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraq exile leader whose Iraq National Congress peddled bad information on Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.”
“When General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, testified before congress weeks prior to the invasion that it would take several hundred thousand soldiers to occupy Iraq, Wolfowitz said the estimate was wildly off the mark. He discounted the possibility of sectarian violence following the invasion, insisted that Iraq oil revenues would finance post-war reconstruction and declared that we would be greeted as liberators. Vice President Cheney and others aped these lies. See www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/jeb-bush-adviser-paul-wolfowitz, http://zfacts.com/iraq-war-quotes or http://usiraq.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000681.”
This is no small matter and the question at issue is anything but theoretical or hypothetical. Learning the lessons of Iraq is critical to our national security and Jeb leads the pack of Republican fundraisers.
Nor are we persuaded that Jeb misheard the question or made a mistake. Given his previous statements and whom he has chosen as his advisors, Jeb Bush and others like him are unrepentant. In spite of all that has happened, regardless the lives lost and treasure wasted, regardless the disastrous consequences of the invasion and occupation to America and the world, they remain convinced that they were right and every one else is wrong.
Jeb Bush could well be the next President of the United States. “Having the architects of the Iraq War whispering in his ear ought to scare the bejeezus out of anyone who yearns for a rational national security policy.” www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/jeb-bush-adviser-paul-wolfowitz.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum