Things are getting kind of squirrely on the campaign trail. At first Jeb gave his unconditional support for Brother George on the Iraq War, saying he would have done the same in his position. However, Brother Jeb backed away a little after being pressed on the issue, and by the end of the week had turned 180 degrees and said he would not have gone to war with Iraq, having issued his fourth statement on the subject in a matter of days. You have to wonder what George feels, but if anyone should know, all's fair in war and politics.
Jeb would have been best to follow Lindsey Graham's lead and blame the whole thing on Obama for "coitus interruptus." Lindsey remains unabashed in his defense of the Iraq War, saying that while Dubya mades some mistakes, Obama leaving Iraq was the biggest mistake of all. Graham believes that we should have maintained our military position in Iraq, even if military advisers supported full withdrawal.
Dear Lindsey refuses to concede that Obama is battling ISIS with continued air strikes and the joint ground forces of Iraq and Iran. It's the Iran part that troubles Graham the most, as he would like to put military pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program. It's kind of hard to do when we are allowing Iran to help stabilize Iraq.
Ted Cruz is having nothing to do with the war. He wasn't around to vote on the war resolution back in 2003, not that he votes on much else in Congress. As far as he is concerned, we came, we saw, we conquered, and whatever mess remains behind is Obama's mess.
As we saw in Texas it is very convenient to have these existential threats to stir up the conservative base. We seem to have a great number of existential threats these days. There is a firmly held belief among the religious conservative electorate that their Christian beliefs are under attack from all sides. We have ISIS crawling under the border of Texas, according to Rick Perry. The LGBT community forcing their beliefs on poor Christian bakers to hear Mike Huckabee. Russia is once again exerting its influence, much to the chagrin of John McCain. Last but least, the greatly exaggerated threat of an Obama imperial reign. So it goes.
Sadly, Iraq just won't go away, and poor Jeb stuck his foot into his mouth and has yet to unlodge it. Of course, he wants to defend his brother, who is actively supporting his bid for President, but the reality of the situation, as George expressed himself, the "intelligence proved false." It doesn't matter at this point that the intelligence was false to begin with, as there was no evidence of weapons in mass destruction in Iraq before, during or after the invasion, but it gives George a convenient way out of his decision.
Most Republicans want to put the blame on Obama for the insurrection currently taking place in Iraq, refusing to accept that he simply followed through on the withdrawal plan conceived and begun in the last quarter of Bush's tenure. Robert Gates was kept on as Secretary of Defense for this expressed purpose, although he too would now like to claim he wanted to leave some small American force in place in case something like ISIS kicked up, but naturally was overruled by President.
Everyone knew that rebellions would take place given that Iraq has long been a battleground of Islamic sects, but civilian and military advisers all felt that the Iraqi military had the means and logistical support necessary to repress these insurrections. After all, the Iraqi military forces had over 10 years of intense training. Unfortunately, the "intelligence" community didn't count on the weak-kneed response from the Iraqi President, who seemed to be waiting for US troops to come back to fight these civil battles for them.
I don't think the Republican electorate understands the complexity of the situation, as Rick Grennel opined. Most Americans just want Iraq to go away. They've already pushed Afghanistan out of their heads, even though we still have a small force in place. The operation is now called Resolute Force, with about 13,000 NATO troops still stationed inside Afghanistan, half of which are American soldiers.
What this little episode with Jeb showed is that the Republican candidates are woefully deficient when it comes to Foreign Policy, even the brother of a former president who has access to the very same advisers, including Paul Wolfowitz. The only problem is that Wolfie is no apologist for the war. He too remains fully supportive of the invasion.
This doesn't bode well for Jeb as it looks to anyone on the outside that he would bring back pretty much the same administration of his brother. I don't think anyone is ready for The Bush Dynasty, Part III.