Sunday, August 16, 2015
Skin in the game
We were always told that Jeb was the smart one, and that somehow we got saddled with the dumb one in the White House. Hearing these recent comments, it doesn't seem like either of the Bush brothers are very bright.
It's tough having to follow your brother, especially when he wasn't the most popular president. Dubya made some really dumb decisions, especially in Iraq. You would think Jeb would try to distance himself from the war, but instead he tries to lay the blame at Hillary's feet, which led to a whirlwind of responses, including the Donald, who called Jeb's "skin in the game" comment one of the dumbest statements ever.
General Odierno, who oversaw the Iraqi surge, also called out Jeb on his claim that the Obama administration is to blame for ISIS, noting that the pullout was agreed to back in 2008. There was never any plan to leave troops in Iraq, despite what Robert Gates and Leon Panetta have said in their books.
The Venn diagram is also interesting because it circles two key figures, John Negroponte and Paul Wolfowitz, who were active proponents of the Iraq war and served in the Reagan, Pere Bush and Dubya Bush administrations. Of course, you can add other figures like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who can be traced back to the Nixon and Ford administrations. Jeb has taken Wolfowitz as a foreign policy adviser.
ISIS is not something that appeared out of thin air. The US was fighting insurgency elements throughout the Iraq War, drawn from all over the Muslim world. The Iraq and Afghan wars were prime recruiting grounds. While allied armed forces were able to keep these rebel groups more or less in check, the Iraqi military has had much more difficulties, largely because there appears to be a lack of will within its own army. This was expected, which is why the US is now giving the Iraqi military logistical support and providing air cover.
Jeb, like most Republicans, doesn't think this is enough. Even Trump wants to put troops on the ground to cut access to oil wells by ISIS. General Odierno also scolded Trump, noting that oil revenues amount to a small fraction of ISIS revenue. Principally, they draw their money by extorting local residents and stealing from banks, raking in about $1 billion per year. I guess that's how they can afford all those Toyota Hiluxes, you see them parading through each town they capture.
It seems that Trump has taken a page from Rand Paul, insisting that Republicans own up to their involvement in Iraq. Paul was pilloried by the conservative press and fellow candidates for his comments back in May, but it seems that Trump struck a nerve in Iowa by chastising Jeb for trying to defend the Iraq War and claiming that the US had no "skin in the game," reminding Jeb of all the money and lives lost in Iraq.
Maybe it was just the way Jeb said it that irked the Donald, as he would like to see American ground forces in Iraq as well. Trump seems to be able to have his cake and eat it too, while Jeb just ends up with pie in his face.