Today at the Iowa State Fair, Jeb Bush was forced to once again address his brother’s disastrous Iraq legacy, and delivered this gem:
First of all, the Iraqis want our help. They want to know we have skin in the game, that we’re committed to this.
When someone in the crowd reminded him that it was his brother who in 2008 negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement requiring all US forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, he went on to contend something that no one else who pays attention to American foreign policy honestly believes:
We didn’t have to get out in 2011 … It [the agreement] could have been modified, and that was the expectation. Everybody in Iraq and everybody in Washington knew that this deal could have been expanded.
Jeb here is being either willfully misleading or simply delusional. As Fred Kaplan points out in Slate,
Article 30 of that same agreement stated that its terms could be amended “only with the official agreement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in effect in both countries.” These “constitutional procedures” included a vote by the Iraqi Parliament—and at no time between 2008 and 2011 was the Iraqi Parliament going to take such a vote.
Granted, President Obama did want to get out of Iraq; he won the White House in large part on that promise, and there was no more support in the United States than in Iraq for a continued presence of American troops. And yet Obama did send emissaries—among them former aides to George W. Bush—to seek an amendment to allow a few thousand residual forces. The Iraqi government refused. Unless Obama wanted to re-invade the country, there was nothing to be done.
Frankly, my money is edging toward delusional, in part because of statements like this next one. As CNN reported:
Thursday, reporters asked Bush if he intentionally invoked the phrase “mission was accomplished” as a nod to his brother, who famously spoke in 2003 in front of a banner with almost the same wording splashed across it, yet the war continued on for years.
Jeb Bush, somewhat annoyed, argued reporters were overanalyzing his remarks.
I know you’re obsessed with all this and that’s your job, but it was a mission that was accomplished,” he said, referring to the 2007 surge. “(The phrase) is used. It was actually a movie. It’s been a sequel. Tom Cruise has made a really good living out of it,” he went on to say, appearing to conflate the term with the movie series “Mission Impossible.”
Had enough yet? No? OK, here’s one more.
Asked about waterboarding and other forms of torture, Jeb refused to say whether he would keep in place President Obama’s executive order banning abusive methods of interrogation. Again from the CNN report:
“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said, saying he prefers to be “cautious” in making such predictions. “When you are president your words matter.”
Later at a separate event in Ankeny, Iowa, he was asked by reporters to clarify whether he was leaving open the idea of allowing methods like waterboarding again in the future.
“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said, but stressed “we don’t do torture.”
And Jeb is considered the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Imagine how the unserious ones sound.