Fact-checker catches Jeb Bush telling lies about his brother’s war in Iraq and the birth of ISIS

Presumptive Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush doesn’t like it that some people are saying his brother’s ill-fated war in Iraq gave birth to ISIS (or ISIL, as President Obama calls it). Bush and his party-mates prefer to argue that ISIS is a by-product of Obama’s foreign policy. But Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gives Jeb’s claim four Pinocchios, his worst rating for inaccuracy. HERE‘s Kessler’s story: [T]o a large extent, the Islamic State of today is simply an outgrowth of al-Qaeda of Iraq. In 2007, the Times of London, quoting U.S. intelligence officials, described “a radical plan by Al-Qaeda to take over the Sunni heartland of Iraq and turn it into a militant Islamic state once American troops have withdrawn.” The National Counterterrorism Center puts it this way: “Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and more recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was established in April 2004 by long-time Sunni extremist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi.” The NCTC notes that Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and afterwards his successor announced the formation of the Islamic State. (Snip) Bush seems to have fallen prey to Washington conventional wisdom, in which ISIS suddenly emerged into consciousness in the past year or so. That may be fine for armchair analysts or journalists. But that’s little excuse for a presidential candidate, who might have to grapple with this problem if he or she is elected president.  ...

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If our choice in Iraq is to go big or go home, we should go home

It ain’t for nothing that columnist Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post has won a Pulitzer Prize. Simply stated, Robinson is more often right than not. America would do well, it seems to me,  to heed the advice Robinson offers in his LATEST SUBMISSION: If Iraqis won’t fight for their nation’s survival, why on earth should we? This is the question posed by the fall of Ramadi, which revealed the emptiness at the core of U.S. policy. President Obama’s critics are missing the point: Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many troops he sends back to Iraq or whether their footwear happens to touch the ground. The simple truth is that if Iraqis will not join together to fight for a united and peaceful country, there will be continuing conflict and chaos that potentially threaten American interests. We should be debating how best to contain and minimize the threat. Further escalating the U.S. military role, I would argue, will almost surely lead to a quagmire that makes us no more secure. If the choice is go big or go home, we should pick the latter.              ...

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Stupid answers to a stupid question

The mainstream media have been busying themselves lately asking politicians in general and presidential hopefuls in particular if they would have approved the U.S. military invasion of Iraq on the basis of what we know now. It’s the wrong question, and it elicits the wrong answers. James Fallows points out HERE: Leaders don’t make decisions on the basis of “what we know now” retrospectively. They have to weigh evidence based on “what we knew then,” in real time… The “knowing what we know” question presumes that the Bush Administration and the U.S. public were in the role of impartial jurors, or good-faith strategic decision-makers, who while carefully weighing the evidence were (unfortunately) pushed toward a decision to invade, because the best-available information at the time indicated that there was an imminent WMD threat. That view is entirely false. The war was going to happen. The WMD claims were the result of the need to find a case for the war, rather than the other way around. Paul Krugman is exactly right when he says: The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that.        ...

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Where’s the outrage over Jeb’s claim that Iraq War veterans can’t deal with the truth?

On most any given day, one or more of my Facebook friends will post a message encouraging respect and support for U.S. military troops and veterans. Most such messages are welcome and worthy, but a few are not. Sometimes there are not-so-subtle suggestions that any Americans who have dissented against certain wars are somehow unpatriotic and not supportive of the troops. That’s nonsense, of course, especially since veterans themselves have been known on occasion to speak out against American military misadventures. That was especially true during the Vietnam conflict. Still, the myth persists that truly patriotic Americans should support any and all situations to which the commander-in-chief commits our military forces. This notion came to mind the other day when Jeb Bush, a presumptive candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said  in effect  that an honest answer to the question of whether the Iraq War was worth the effort might do a “disservice” to the American troops who served in that conflict. As you probably know by now, Bush flipped and flopped all over the place this week with regard to the question of whether, on the basis of what we know now, he would have sent troops to Iraq. He finally faced reality and said he would not have started the war. But at one point during the controversy, he said the following through a spokesperson: “If we are going to get into hypotheticals, I think it does a lot of disservice for a lot of people who sacrificed a lot…Going back in time, does a disservice for them.” That’s another way of saying that the Americans who did the fighting and killing — and their families — can’t face the truth about whether the war was a good idea. If they’ve been misled to think of the war as a noble and worthwhile mission, let them continue to think so. Bush admits now that the war was not a good idea, but it took him a while to muster the courage to say so. And along the way, he used the troops as a pathetic excuse for his own political cowardice. Where’s the outrage over that? Where are the Facebookers who regularly promote respect and support for the troops and veterans? Their silence is deafening.            ...

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Jeb Bush unwittingly reminds us who was right and who was wrong about Iraq War

Three cheers for Jeb Bush! He didn’t mean to do it, but he has reminded us that his brother, George W., and the other war hawks of his time have been proven dead wrong about the U.S. invasion of Iraq some 12 years ago. Nor is the negative judgment of the Iraq War just my opinion. Polls show that it’s now shared by a majority of Americans, including lots of conservative Republicans. Jeb finds himself in hot water this week for answering affirmatively to a question of whether he would support the invasion of Iraq given what we now know about the matter. In the face of widespread outrage over his answer, Jeb says he misunderstood the question. But the damage — or the laying bare of truth, as it were — is done. Our national memory is notoriously short, so it’s a wonder that most Americans still remember enough about the U.S. misadventure in Iraq to realize it was a big mistake. Most people, however, probably don’t remember the national mood at the time the invasion was approved in the fall of 2002 and launched in the early spring of 2003. War fever was in the air in those days. The nation was still hurting from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the consensus was that we had to exact retribution from Arabs — any Arabs. The man in the street wanted the U.S. military to kick ass. When the Bush administration proposed Iraq as the target, the hawkish American populace generally approved. The Bush people never flatly declared that Iraq bore any direct responsibility for Sept. 11, but the implication was clear. The Iraqis were Arabs, and the administration strongly suspected that they had a big cache of weapons of mass destruction. Let’s smash them before they smash us. When the early days of the invasion showed signs of success, George W. Bush strutted across the deck of an aircraft carrier and stood before a “Mission Accomplished” banner to declare that the toughest part of the war was all but over. Patriotic Americans had flags flapping from antennas on their cars, and more than a few spoke venomously of anything having to do with the French, who had so cowardly taken a pass on Bush’s invitation to join in the war. The commencement speaker at Rockford College graduation ceremonies, Chris Hedges of The New York Times, was booed off the stage for daring to speak ill of the Iraq War. America was back, by God, and nobody would be allowed to suggest otherwise. But, as we know now, it wasn’t all that simple. The WMDs were never found, and the war dragged on for years, killing thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis, many of them civilians. Gradually, the American public soured on the conflict, and eventually the whole affair was seen as a disaster. But some Republican stalwarts were reluctant to see blame laid exclusively at the feet of their party. The Democrats in Congress were all in favor of the war at the start, weren’t they? Actually, it was a Republican war from the get-go. When the Iraq War Resolution was passed by Congress in October of 2002, nearly all of the opposition came from Democrats. In the House, 60 percent of Democrats voted against the measure, while only 6 out of...

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