Jeb Bush delivered a major foreign policy speech yesterday at the Reagan Presidential Library in California, in which he outlined his plans for increased global engagement. He hit on the challenges posed by ISIS, Syria, and Iran, and laid a good deal of blame for U.S. policy failures at the feet of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The former Florida governor began his speech by sketching out the dismal situation in Iraq, which has been largely overrun by ISIS. He criticized President Obama for allowing ISIS to gain a foothold and to flourish in a region that was stable when he took office.
"Well into this nightmare, President Obama's administration, by its own admission, has no strategy to stop it. In place of one, they are pursuing a minimalist approach of incremental escalation. The results have been a creeping U.S. involvement without any strategic results -- the worst of both worlds."
He also criticized Hillary Clinton for supporting Obama's Iraq withdrawal, which he said was done in "blind haste."
"So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers. Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous."
Bush iterated that the U.S. must be "unyielding" in defeating ISIS, and he pledged to destroy the terrorist organization as president. While he refrained from supporting "a major commitment" of U.S. ground forces to Iraq, he said we should embed U.S. troops within the Iraqi army to increase military effectiveness against ISIS.
Bush then pivoted to Syria. He said he would work to ensure the downfall of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has overseen the deaths of over 200,000 of his own people since his country's civil war began. Bush said he would enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, support moderate anti-Assad troops, and establish multiple safe zones in that country. Bush also stressed the importance of ensuring that Assad is not replaced by an equally bad leader. To prevent that, he said he would consolidate moderate leaders in Syria and "back them up as one force," ultimately helping them institute a "stable, moderate government" of their own.
Bush took time to criticize the Iran nuclear deal, which he called a deal "unwise in the extreme, with a regime that is untrustworthy in the extreme." He said President Obama and Hillary Clinton were wrong to treat the Mullah's in Iran as "stabilizing force in the region," saying that they help fund global terrorism, have vowed to destroy Israel, and have sought to develop nukes. He said the nuclear deal should be rejected by Congress.
"If the Congress does not reject this deal, then the damage must be undone by the next president -- and it will be my intention to begin that process immediately."
Bush said that these plans to foster a more stable world require a strong U.S. presence, and that means a better funded U.S. military. He vowed, as president, to begin rebuilding a military that has been suffocating under budget recent budget cuts:
"I assure you: the day that I become president will be the day that we turn this around, and begin rebuilding the armed forces of the United States."
See the full speech below.