Polarization has been one of the most serious problems in the country for several years and is only growing worse. One man, however, brought the country together in an interview with Megyn Kelly to be aired tonight on the Fox network. In a clip released last week, Kelly asked Jeb Bush about the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003
“On the subject of Iraq, very controversial, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”
Jeb replied, “I would have.”
On her radio show, conservative host Laura Ingraham almost screamed:
“You can’t still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. If you do, there has to be something wrong with you.”
The conservative Washington Examiner’s Byron York described Jeb Bush’s answer as “disastrous.”
Jeb Bush’s position is at odds with the majority of people in the United States.
As if to excuse his statement, Jeb not only said he would make the same mistake as his brother but also added “so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody.” He doesn’t know that Clinton would do now. She voted to support the war because her only information was the false “intelligence” that George W. Bush spread across the country and throughout Congress, but in her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton apologized for her that vote.
After Jeb’s answer went viral, Ana Navarro, a former Bush aide and guest on CNN, asked him, “Did you mishear the question?” Jeb answered, “Yes, I misheard the question.”
Fellow guest and Democratic strategist Paul Begala commented, “I didn’t know he had a hearing impairment, and we pray for his swift recovery.”
Jeb’s next dance around the question was telling radio host Sean Hannity that he misinterpreted it and didn’t know if he would have acted as his brother George W. Bush did. Jeb added, “Clearly there were mistakes made as they related to faulty intelligence.”
Even if Jeb gets a pass by saying that he “misheard” and that the intelligence was “faulty,” he skips the fact that his brother called the intelligence “wrong.” So was the process in obtaining it, according to Paul Pillar, the CIA official who oversaw Middle East intelligence at that time, who wrote the following in 2006:
“In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made… and that the intelligence community’s own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.”
Pillar concluded that “official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war.”
A report of the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the George W. Bush administration “repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” It documented numerous statements made by the Bush administration to justify the war that were not supported by intelligence. Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence under George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, found the administration “set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers” the intelligence community was giving them. Inside the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith led the effort to “reinterpret information” provided to them by intelligence, and his group produced and promoted “false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.”
Ezra Klein wrote that Jeb’s evasion, claiming that he had answered a different question, is even worse than the original answer:
“Bush’s answer to the question he thought he was being asked—would you have invaded Iraq if you only knew what was known then—is more telling, and confirms the worst fears some had about his candidacy. What he said, in effect, was that the Iraq War was a good idea that was undermined by bad intelligence. He said, in other words, that he thinks the basic concept of the Iraq War was right even if the specific case turned out to be wrong.”
Any threat from Hussein, even with WMDs, was so horrible and immediate that the U.S. should carry out a full-scale invasion. Earlier Iraqi efforts of WMD were pointed at Iran, who the U.S. hates. War leaders claimed that the invasion would be cheap and fast: Mitch Daniels, budget director, estimated a cost of $50 billion to $60 billion. Lawrence Lindsey, top economic advisor, raised the guess to $100 billion to $200 billion and was fired. After 12 years, the war has cost several trillions of dollars.
When General Eric Shinseki said that the estimate of 100,000 troops for Bush’s war was far fewer than needed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused him of being “far off the mark,” and Shinseki was left in the shadows. The most famous bragging point, however, was Vice President Dick Cheney’s quote from Meet the Press that “we will be greeted as liberators.” Everyone knows how that worked out.
Congress would have had a much different response to the Iraqi invasion if members had know both fiscal and human costs, the length of the debacle, the chaos that the U.S. actions would bring to the Middle East, and the destruction of the middle class in the United States.
In talking about the “faulty” intelligence surrounding the Iraq War, Jeb said that “mistakes were made,” a common statement by those who refuse to place responsibility on the perpetrators. He also has the same foreign policy thinking of his brother George W. An example is his co-founding the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. The neocon think tank called for the overthrow of any government leader that the U.S. doesn’t like, including Saddam Hussein. The massive regime change, “Pax Americana,” would put the U.S. in control of the world, its natural resources, and its economy.
Twelve years ago, Jonathan Freedland described PNAC as concentrating on “‘full spectrum dominance,’ meaning American invincibility in every field of warfare–land, sea, air and space–and a world in which no two nations’ relationship with each other will be more important than their relationship with the U.S.”
The names of other founding members such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Zalmay Khalilzad (George W. Bush’s “special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis”) are familiar because they planned the Iraq war for Jeb’s brother. These are the same men who would play an instrumental part in the presidency if Jeb Bush is elected because he has selected them as advisors.
Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.” Like several other presidential candidates, Jeb Bush is one of those powerful people.
The conservatives are circling the wagons to protect Jeb. Bad hearing, bad interpretation—actually bad answer. But 24 hours after the Fox promo with Jeb’s first answer aired, the dialog is back, and the polarization is building. Jeb is down in the polls but up in gathering money. By the time that he declares his candidacy, his war chest may be enough to wipe out the competition.