GOP hopeful Jeb Bush outlines Iraq strategy

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sharply criticized President Obama’s handling of the Iraq War on an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, calling it a failure, and accused President Obama of an absence “of clear strategy.”

When Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer asked Bush if ground troops were needed in order to rollback ISIS, Bush replied:

“I think we need to coordinate with the Iraqi government and with the Iraqi military. We need to embed American troops, as we have done successfully in the past, to help train them, to identify targets, to do what we do really well,” Bush said. “We need to encourage the Iraqi government to provide support to the Sunni tribes, as we did during the surge. I think we need to arm the Kurds as well, in coordination with the Iraqi government. We need a strategy. We don’t have a strategy right now. We have series of tactics reacting to whatever is going on, on the ground.  That doesn’t mean we have to have combat troops in harm’s way.

When Schieffer asked if Bush’s vision for victory in Iraq could be achieved without introducing a contingent of U.S. troops, “I do,” was Bush’s reply.

No candidate with a bearing for the White House will win while calling for a new deployment of ground troops to Iraq.

Bush’s comments were about as safe as one can expect from a candidate tip-toeing around a delicate issue.  Given Bush’s stumbles on the subject of the Iraq War, his tacit refusal to call for ground troops suggests he is unwilling to unpack unwanted baggage from his brother’s presidency.  While Bush was plainly condemning President Obama for lacking presidential will in warfare and, by extension, allowing both Iraq to collapse and Iran fill a power vacuum, Bush’s alternative is a political answer as opposed to a practical, long-term solution.

 

[CBS News] [Reuters]