The Republican front-runner seems to be addicted to the warmongers and regime-changers who inspired his brother’s foreign policy. Which should drive a sane person to drink.
By Michael A. Cohen
February 27, 2015
The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that there are no second acts in American life. But that’s clearly not the case with American foreign policy.
Last week, when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced the names of his 21 informal foreign-policy advisors, it read like a who’s who of Republican presidents past. There was George Shultz, secretary of state in Ronald Reagan’s administration; James Baker, who held the same job for Bush’s father; and Robert Zoellick, who served under Baker in George H.W. Bush’s State Department and later became U.S. trade representative.
But it is the more recent names that were most notable. Seventeen of the 21 officials on Jeb Bush’s advisory board served in the administration of Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush. In case you’ve forgotten (as it appears many Americans have), George W. Bush was president from 2001 to 2009, and he had the most calamitous foreign-policy tenure of any U.S. president, perhaps ever.
He also started a war in Iraq, which didn’t work out too well. In fact, it was a kind of an unmitigated disaster. In 2008, it was the focus of the presidential campaign and a good part of the reason that Barack Obama (who opposed the war) prevailed in the Democratic nomination fight over Hillary Clinton (who initially backed it) and defeated John McCain (who basically supports every war) later that year.
Yet within two cycles it seems that the Iraq misadventure and Bush II’s disastrous foreign policy in general are practically ancient history — and that those responsible for it have been so quickly rehabilitated that his brother is citing them as reason to have confidence in his foreign-policy judgment.
An example: You might think that Paul Wolfowitz — who was deputy secretary of defense in W’s first term and told Congress a month before the Iraq invasion that “it’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army” — would no longer be taken seriously in the U.S. foreign-policy community. But you’d be wrong. Wolfowitz, who is generally considered one of the architects of the Iraq War, is on Jeb’s advisory board.