There has been some furor over the “Would you have launched the Iraq War?” question posed to Jeb Bush mostly revolving around the question of whether he understood the qualifying “knowing what we know now” as opposed to “knowing what we knew then”. But this is to miss the point. Because Jeb was on record for launching a war on Iraq right from 1997. That is screw what we did or didn’t know in September 2001 or March 2003, Bush was ready to lead the Neo-Cons to war years before that. To see that this is true you need to examine two coupled documents from the Project for a New American Century and their signatories: the PNAC Statement of Principles (1997) and their Letter to Clinton on Iraq (1998)
Now some might make the case that the Statement was just aspirational and the Letter operational but I say that in this case that is a distinction without a difference. In 1997 Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney signed their name to a manifesto, one that committed this country to a campaign of perma-war to establish a ‘New American Century’. If only the country would put the power to do so in their hands. Which the country (with an assist from the Supreme Court) did in 2000. Which in turn made the war on Iraq a matter of when and not if. If that is you take the Neo-Cons at their word. As publically signed in a full page ad in the New York Times. The Statement opens as follows:
American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America’s role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.
We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?
William J. Bennett
Eliot A. Cohen
Fred C. Ikle Donald Kagan
I. Lewis Libby
Peter W. Rodman
Stephen P. Rosen
Henry S. Rowen
This is the Bush Foreign Policy. The JEB Bush Foreign Policy. And in this policy the Iraq was was a Feature, indeed the Opening Feature, and not some Bug.