Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion
Recently, the man they call JEB! faced off against a 19-year-old college student. It didn’t go well for him.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush was at a town hall meeting in Nevada the other day when he was confronted by political science major Ivy Ziedrich, of the University of Nevada at Reno. Ms. Ziedrich reacted to a statement from JEB! claiming that ISIS was created by Barack Obama “retreating” from Iraq.
“We had an agreement that the president could have signed,” Bush had stated, “that would have kept 10,000 troops, less than we have in Korea, that could have created the stability that would have allowed for Iraq to progress.”
Actually, Ms. Ziedrich argued, the problem goes back farther, to the time when the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority decided to disband the Iraqi military, a time “when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military were forced out — they had no employment, they had no income, and they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons.”
She wound up by concluding, “Your brother created ISIS.”
It was a scene reminiscent of the time Joe the Plumber, the belligerent bullet-headed dude-bro from Ohio, became a hero to the rubes and ignoramii by getting in candidate Barack Obama’s face and claiming Obama’s policies would make his taxes go up. The difference between Ivy Zierdich and Joe the Plumber is that Ziedrich actually knows what she’s talking about.
Disbanding the Iraqi forces and leaving thousands of armed and angry young men with nothing to do but form insurgent groups is now regarded by most historians as the second biggest blunder of Dubbya’s Wacky Iraqi Adventure (the first being starting the bloody thing in the first place).
The most compelling evidence that that decision led to disaster is that no one, including Dubbya himself, will now admit to being the one who made it. Colin Powell, who said it was a mistake, denied ever being consulted, as did Gen. Peter Pace, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Condoleezza Rice claims it was a complete surprise. Dubbya told biographer Robert Draper, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen,” adding, “I can’t remember; I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy. What happened?’”
Stirring leadership, that.
So how did this become an issue now? Probably as a result of JEB!’s first, but almost certainly not last, gaffe of his campaign-that-is-not-yet-a-campaign-except-everyone-totally-knows-it’s-a-campaign. Asked by Fox News if “knowing what we know now,” would he have decided to go to war with Iraq, JEB! said he would — “and so would Hillary Clinton.”
On this last part, he may be right, even though Clinton at least admits her vote was a mistake.
Sadly, the Fox reporter did not follow up with the obvious questions like, “Would you also have put an entirely unqualified campaign donor in charge of FEMA, and then watched as he massively bungled the relief effort after a major hurricane before telling him he was doing a ‘heckuva job’? Would you have ignored a daily briefing titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ 36 days before the late Mr. bin Laden did just that?”
JEB! later began furiously backpedaling, claiming he thought the question was “knowing what we knew THEN, would you have gone into Iraq?” Only problem with that defense is that those of us who knew what we knew THEN thought it was a terrible idea. And guess what? We were right.
Finally, JEB! threw in the towel, sulkily declaring that “knowing what we know now, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.” In other words, JEB! was retroactively for war in Iraq before he was retroactively against it. There’s that Bush leadership again.
Oh, and as for that claim that we had an “agreement that would have kept 10,000 troops in Iraq”? Politifact rates that as “mostly false,” adding:
“Obama inherited a timeline to exit Iraq from George W. Bush and followed it, but there was no agreement to leave a large force behind. The Obama White House considered 10,000 troops for a short time but ruled it out, suggesting a much smaller force. Negotiations with Iraq broke down, however, and there was no agreement that met conditions Washington wanted.”
Those conditions included immunity for American troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts.
So let’s review: JEB! said he’d make the same mistake his brother did, then said he wouldn’t, then lied to try to shift the blame for the current disastrous aftermath of the Iraq War away from the president who started it in the first place.
Doggone these liberals! When are they going to stop blaming George Dubbya Bush for the things he actually did?