Jeb's Bush's Confused Mindset Over Iraq
24 October 2015
By Jacob G.
Poor Jeb Bush. He just can't get his mind straight on Iraq. Perhaps that's
because he's reluctant to criticize his brother George W. Perhaps it's
because he wants desperately to be president and is willing to take any
position on Iraq that will garner him votes.
Whatever the reason is, when it comes to Iraq Bush just keeps digging himself
a deeper hole, as reflected most recently by an attack regarding Iraq that he
leveled yesterday against Hillary Clinton, accusing Clinton and President
Obama of a ''premature withdrawal'' from Iraq, which, Bush says, enabled the
rise of ISIS.
Recall how Bush's troubles on Iraq started. Several months ago, the press
asked him whether he would have supported the Iraq War if he knew what he
knows now. Bush responded, ''I would have, and so would Hillary Clinton, just
to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with
the intelligence they got.''
Soon after that, in response to attacks from the mainstream press, Bush
changed his position. He acknowledged that if he had known the WMD
intelligence on Iraq was false, he never would have supported the Iraq War.
Now he's suggesting that if he would have been president, he would have kept
the troops occupying Iraq longer than Obama and Clinton did.
Let's go back to basics. It is an undisputed fact that Iraq never attacked
the United States. Neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government
participated in the 9/11 attacks.
That doesn't seem to be a big issue with Jeb or with any other Republican
candidate who now says that he wouldn't have supported the invasion of Iraq
given what we now know because they never mention that. But it is a big issue
because it means that the U.S. government was the aggressor in the Iraq War,
just as Japan was the aggressor with its attack on Pearl Harbor. By attacking
a nation that had never attacked the United States, the U.S. government was
waging what the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal labeled the war crime of
''waging a war on aggression.'' That's when one nation attacks, invades, and
occupies another nation.
It doesn't matter how much one might love or support the troops. What matters
is that by becoming the aggressors in the conflict, Bush's army had no moral
or legal authority to kill, imprison, or torture even one single Iraqi.
By the same token, the Iraqi people and their government had the right under
international law to defend themselves from Bush's war of aggression on their
There is another thing to consider: The U.S. Constitution. That's the law
that we the people have imposed on federal officials. It requires the
president to secure a congressional declaration of war before waging a war on
another country. Bush failed to do that, which made his war illegal under our
form of government.
No, it doesn't matter that the federal courts don't enforce that part of the
Constitution. And no, it doesn't matter that Congress fails to impeach
presidents who violate that provision. The Constitution remains the law of
the land even if the judiciary and the Congress choose to ignore its
The fact is that George W. Bush, conservatives, and neoconservatives wanted
to remove Saddam from power and install a pro-U.S. stooge in his place. Ever
since Jeb's and W.'s father, President George H.W. Bush, had waged his
Persian Gulf War (also without a congressional declaration of war),
conservatives and neo-conservatives were hopping mad that H.W. had not
finished the war by effecting regime change in Iraq during the Persian Gulf
Thus, for the succeeding 10 years or more — i.e., throughout the 1990s —
Saddam was the official bogeyman. Concern about the threat of communism or
terrorism or Islam was virtually non-existent. It was all: ''Saddam! Saddam!
Saddam!'' Conservatives and neocons were more obsessed with Saddam than they
had been with Fidel Castro during the Cold War.
That's what the brutal sanctions on Iraq were all about — the ones that
contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Their
purpose was to instigate a coup or a revolution in Iraq whereby Saddam would
be ousted or killed, must like the U.S.-instigated coup in Chile in 1973 that
brought pro-U.S. military strongman Augusto Pinochet to power.
But the sanctions didn't work, just as the U.S. embargo against Cuba failed
to effect regime change there.
So, the cons and the neocons needed an excuse to invade Iraq to get what they
wanted — a new pro-U.S. dictator in power. Of course, it's never been clear
as to why U.S. officials turned on Saddam. He was their loyal partner and
ally throughout the 1980s, including the period of time during which U.S.
officials were delivering those infamous WMDs to Saddam so that he could use
them to kill Iranians.
In any event, the 9/11 attacks provided George W. Bush with the opportunity
that conservatives and neo-conservatives had been hoping for. With most
everyone in a terrified mindset after 9/11, Bush and his cohorts knew that
all they had to do was conjure up images of mushroom clouds and other WMDs
and almost no one would object to a regime-change invasion of Iraq.
They knew that few people would question what they were claiming. Most
everyone was too scared of ''the terrorists'' to challenge their WMD claims.
I recall people writing FFF before the invasion of Iraq, criticizing us for
our opposition to the invasion, by saying, ''We've got to trust our
officials. They have access to information that we don't have.''
How can we tell that Bush and his cohorts were lying about the threat of an
imminent WMD attack on the United States? Because they first went to the
United Nations and asked for its permission to invade Iraq! Ask yourself: If
an American president truly believed that the United States was under the
imminent threat of a WMD attack by a foreign nation, would he really take the
time to go to the United Nations to ask for permission to repel the attack?
Here's another way you can tell that they were lying: Once the invasion
clearly and unequivocally established that the WMD justification for invading
was false, then there was only one right course of action to take: Apologize
for the ''mistake'' and get out of the country.
Bush didn't do that. Instead, he ordered his troops to continue occupying the
country and killing whoever got in their way.
Of course, Jeb Bush can't bring himself to saying that his brother deceived
the nation into war, which relegates him to saying that it was all just an
innocent mistake, one that now prevents him from retrospectively supporting
his brother's war.
Yet, consider Bush's attack on Hillary Clinton yesterday. By suggesting that
if Clinton and Obama should have kept U.S. troops in Iraq longer than they
did, Bush is back to supporting a long-term occupation of Iraq even while
opposing the invasion on which the occupation was based. It would be
interesting to know what Bush's moral and legal justification would be for
maintaining and extending the occupation, given that he now says that he
would have opposed the war if he had known about the false WMD intelligence.
In any event, Jeb Bush was initially for the Iraq War, but is now against the
war knowing what he now knows, but also now feels that the U.S. occupation of
Iraq should have continued longer than it did. It will be interesting to see
if and how that confused mindset on Iraq sorts itself out over the coming
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in
economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the
University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He
also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught
law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become
director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has
advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the
country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and
he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show
Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full