So, after failing to clearly answer the obvious question (which some neo-cons have now labeled a ‘gotcha’ question, like ‘what publications do you read?’), Jeb has followed a predictable course; blame Obama. “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president,” Bush exclaimed gleefully, “Knowing what we know now, Mr. President, should you have kept 10,000 troops in Iraq” Bush asked, president?”
Of course, this is nothing new; Republicans have been criticizing Obama as weak and undetermined for years. Apparently, diplomacy is a bad thing, and militarism is our only option in this dangerous world. “We need a president who is going to back away from that deal in Iran,” said Scott Walker, “We need a president who will affirm that Israel is our ally and start acting like it.” Ted Cruz, who has called Obama an apologist for islamic fundamentalism, said, “It is a time for choosing where we stand.”
Indeed, Republican’s have a good idea where they stand when it comes to war; they’re all for it. It is becoming clear what kind of reasoning the Republican candidates embrace for foreign policy, and it is no different from the reasoning of the Bush administration, illustrated perfectly by Vice President Dick Cheney:
“If there is a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response.”
And here is the reasoning that got us into the Iraq war, it didn’t really matter whether or not Saddam had WMD’s, as long as there was the slightest possibility -- a one percent chance. Scary to think what the Bush administration would have been like during the Cold War.
It is important to remember just how opposed the world was to the war in Iraq, and how belligerent and indifferent the Bush administration actually was to international consensus. “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal,” said the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, in 2004. Leading up to the war, the Bush administration regularly declared how little international consensus meant to it. In 2002, after Congress had given Bush support to attack Iraq, a senior Bush administration official said, “Right now we have accomplished what we had to do to take the action we need to take, and we don't need the Security Council...So if the Security Council wants to stay relevant, then it has to give us similar authority.”
The Bush administration quite clearly wanted war, and nothing was going to stop it. But this one percent reasoning, defined by Cheney, was not the reasoning of a frenzied leader, concerned solely for security, as he would have the public believe. It was simply the reasoning of a war profiteer, who had one year earlier been given a $34 million exit package from Halliburton, a company that went on to receive about $40 billion in U.S. government contracts, many given without bidding.
Today, there is plenty of blame to go around for the chaos in the Middle East. Obama wanted nothing to do with Bush’s destructive wars, just as the people wanted nothing to do with it. The Iraq War was Bush’s disaster, not Obama’s -- but his complete withdrawal and apparent indifference towards the Maliki regime and its sectorial behavior helped trigger some of the instability the country is currently facing.
However, anyone who denies the majority of responsibility to the Bush administration and America’s imperialist activities over the past few decades is simply blinding themselves. Obama has been a leader reluctant to continue wars, and quite clearly does not subscribe to the childish (and dangerous) one percent reasoning of the Bush administration.
But apparently, Republican hopefuls do. First and foremost, candidates are preaching aggression with “overwhelming force.” Presumable favorite, Scott Walker, has voiced a need for this, saying “I think we need to have an aggressive strategy anywhere around the world...I think anywhere and everywhere, we have to be - go beyond just aggressive air strikes...And ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground (in Syria).”
Ted Cruz has tried to sell himself as somewhere in between the neocon hawks and the isolationist libertarians, laying out three rules in a recent interview with Daily Caller:
“If and when U.S. military force is required, proceed under three conditions...First, it should begin with a clearly stated objective at the outset. It should be directly tied to U.S. national security...Second, we should use overwhelming force to do that objective...Third, we should get the heck out.”
Sounds pretty simple. Its easy enough to directly tie anything to U.S. national security, Bush did just that for Iraq. Overwhelming force is certainly something the United States can do, and then “get the heck out.” Surely those foreigners will forget about those American’s who just used overwhelming force against them.
Republican’s continue to show the same mindset as the Bush administration. Remember how quick and simply the Iraq War was supposed to be? It seems the Bush administration more or less followed the Cruz doctrine, launching “shock and awe,” and then, hoping to get out quickly, mismanaging the aftermath, resulting in sectarian violence and the insurgency.
The letter to Iran also shows just how much the Republican’s continue to favor aggression over diplomacy. Ted Cruz has compared the Iran deal to the Munich Agreement, the notorious settlement in which the United Kingdom and France agreed to Nazi Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia, to avoid inevitable war. Cruz said:
“I believe we are hearing echoes of history. I believe we are at a moment like Munich in 1938...I believe fundamentally President Obama and his senior team does not understand the nature of the regime, I believe they think it is perfectly acceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons and engage in containment. And they don’t appreciate the radical religious zealotry.”
What makes Cruz’s hardline paranoia particularly ironic is that a piece of deregulatory legislation he promoted just days after his presidential announcement would weaken the sanctions against Iran. Either he was ignorant of his own legislation, or was simply being a demagogue...or, maybe he finds militarism to be the only true answer.
Once again, Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans seem to be ignorant and ahistorical when it comes to foreign relations. Cruz seems to believe that Iran hates America because of our freedom, while the truth is that Iran hates America (and the west) because of our imperialist adventures over the past century. It is probable that if a foreign country overthrew our Democracy and installed a puppet dictator, we would hate them with a passion also.
But this is not how Republicans think, and it was not how the Bush administration thought. Forget about how we got here -- forget about all of the CIA backed coups, the creation of the Taliban, the backing of Saddam, when he was a good puppet. After the nightmare of Iraq, one would expect our politicians to rethink using “overwhelming force” and quickly “getting the heck out.” The Middle East of today quite clearly shows that you cannot simply destroy a country, and expect them to just go away. The more military force we use, the more chaos will ensue. But, according to Jeb Bush, all of the disorder started a few years ago -- ISIS didn’t exist when his brother was around, so how could he be held responsible?
War should always be the last option, not the first -- and it is alarming to think that most of the 2016 Republican candidates seem to think of it as the first and only option. This mindset is based on the one percent reasoning; the kind of reasoning one would expect from a paranoid schizophrenic -- that Iran is equivalent to Nazi Germany. Iran is not Hitlers Germany, but his rise could provide a historical reminder of what happens when a country is made desperate by foreigners, when it is economically devastated or politically oppressed. Hitler came to power after promising to fix the ills of the German society, caused by the draconian concessions and reparations forced on them at the Treaty of Versailles.
The current disorder in the middle east is greatly because of our pointless aggression and ignorance of the society at large. We need to look in the mirror and realize our past mistakes, not double down -- something Republicans seem wholly unwilling to do.