It should come as no surprise that even before getting a presidential bid underway, Jeb Bush has soiled himself with his brother’s eight years of the worst presidency in the history of the U.S. by confessing in a Fox News interview that he, too, would have authorized the criminal and catastrophic invasion of Iraq.
While an explosively negative public reaction, from both the left and the right, to Jeb’s eye-opening confession has led him to awkwardly back-pedal in more recent days, the truth associated with his remarks will now not ever go away.
That’s because, if anything, Jeb Bush had more to do with promoting the invasion than his brother George W. Bush.
It was Jeb, not George, who was a signatory to the founding statement of principles for the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 1997, adding his name to a Who’s Who of war criminals who became the architects of the Iraq fiasco in and around George Bush’s administration. Those names include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, along with Fred Ikle, Norman Podhoretz, “Scooter” Libby, Midge Decter, Steve Forbes and more, 25 in all, with William Kristol of the Weekly Standard magazine as its chairman.
At the time, George was being groomed for his 2000 presidential run, which failed except for the incredibly unjust majority U.S. Supreme Court decision to stop recounting votes in Florida and hand him the election.
Jeb, always considered much the brighter brother, was supposed to be the candidate, but he barely lost his first run for governor of Florida in 1994 so that as the planning for the 2000 election proceeded, the mantle fell to George.
But, not to worry, Jeb and his PNAC cronies were ready to run U.S. foreign policy for his brother’s regime, with Cheney and Rumsfeld taking the lead.
It was pointed out then that this war-mongering PNAC crowd had been rudely dismissed by the senior George Bush when he was president in the early 1990s, especially when they clamored for extending the 1991 Desert Storm operation with a full blown invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Bush Senior had the sense to know that he ought not to run ahead of the formidable international coalition of support he’d gathered in the effort to repel Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait, and that meant not acting unilaterally in any way. Thus, no U.S. military adventurism to invade Iraq, proper, was in order.
As a result, fuming, the crowd began subsequently to shape into PNAC as a Washington, D.C. “think tank,” issuing papers and working to influence the Bill Clinton administration ahead of the 2000 presidential coup.
Everything associated with terms like “neo-conservative,” “American exceptionalism,” and “chicken hawks” had their roots with the war-mongering initiatives PNAC, and, yes, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush was a major player.
Now, while backtracking from his earlier more authentic confession of support for the Iraq invasion, Jeb Bush says that his support for the invasion was no different than Hilary Clinton’s, who voted as a U.S. Senator with many of her Democratic colleagues in the fall of 2002 to support the U.S. use of force in Iraq.
It is true that many congressional Democrats made a very, very sad and poor decision in October 2002 not to fight George Bush on the war resolution. It was a cynical and reprehensible decision of about half the Democrats in the House and Senate, including Clinton, with an eye to the November 2002 mid-term elections. The argument was that Bush’s popularity on matters of defense, in the wake of 9/11, was still sky high and that it would hurt Democratic chances to stand up to him on that.
They decided, therefore, to give the PNAC offensive for an invasion of Iraq a pass, in hopes of picking up seats in the November 2002 election by focusing on jobs and the economy.
But that unfortunate political expediency is light years’ different from Jeb’s years of PNAC pro-invasion activism, which had accelerated right after 9/11 with a redoubled PNAC call to invade Iraq, despite the lack of any connection whatsoever between 9/11 and Iraq or Hussein.