It was only a matter of time before George W Bush’s adventurism in Iraq began haunting Jeb Bush, and in the end it wasn’t much time at all. Bush hasn’t even yet officially declared his candidacy and already he has spent the past week digging himself out of an Iraq-sized hole, a project that continued Wednesday afternoon when a college student confronted him about the ramifications of his brother’s war.
At a town hall-style in Nevada yesterday Bush argued that President Barack Obama had allowed the security conditions in Iraq to crumble, creating an opening for ISIS.
This student wasn’t having it. “It was 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,” said 19-year-old Ivy Ziedrich. “Your brother created ISIS.”
After some back and forth, she asked, “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”
Here’s Bush’s answer, via the New York Times:
“We respectfully disagree. We have a disagreement. When we left Iraq, security had been arranged, Al Qaeda had been taken out. There was a fragile system that could have been brought up to eliminate the sectarian violence.”
He added: “And we had an agreement that the president could have signed that would have kept 10,000 troops, less than we have in Korea, could have created the stability that would have allowed for Iraq to progress. The result was the opposite occurred. Immediately, that void was filled.”
He concluded: “Look, you can rewrite history all you want. But the simple fact is that we are in a much more unstable place because American pulled back.”
Bush was asked by Megyn Kelly last weekend whether he would have invaded Iraq and answered in the affirmative, a response he and surrogates have been trying to walk back ever since. Yesterday in Nevada he said such hypotheticals did a “disservice” to service members.
[h/t New York Times]
[Image via screengrab]
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