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Jeb Bush Misses One Thing W Got Right

Jeb Bush His Own Man

Jeb Bush’s rollout speech on foreign policy was interesting, and despite the media criticism of its lack of substance, was in fact very enlightening.

First, was the continuing spectacle of Bush (a mature adult with his own record in politics), having to say again and again that he is “his own man” to avoid getting stuck with the political baggage of the failures of his father and brother.

Second, was the obvious negation of that statement as he rolled-out an impressive (at least to the Republican and foreign policy establishment) roster of national security and foreign policy advisors all of whom are alumni of the administrations of his father or brother, or in some cases served in both of the previous Bush administrations.

Indeed about the only major national security or foreign policy alum of the previous Bush administrations who were not on the list of Jeb’s advisers released for the rollout were Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell whose presence would have been more than a little embarrassing.

Beside the “I’m my own man, but I’m using all the former advisers to my Dad and brother” problem there was a strange lack of substance in Jeb Bush’s speech, but it wasn’t the one that the media seemed fixated on – mainly specifics on what he would do differently from what Obama is doing.

What we found strangely missing from Jeb Bush’s foreign policy rollout was any commitment to actually winning any of the foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States today. You can look through the transcript and watch the video on C-SPAN (link at the end of this article) and not find the words “win” or “defeat” applied to any enemy or competitor of the United States – although Bush at least distinguishes himself from President Obama by mentioning “Islamic” extremism.

We contrast this to George W. Bush’s national security strategy, which may have been incompetently executed, but at least put the problem in the right context.

President George W. Bush's national security strategy was pure Ronald Reagan, and if it had been pursued with the resolve Reagan displayed in his 40-year long struggle against communism might make great progress against the rise of Islamism.

In the opening paragraph of his national security strategy, George W. Bush identified his administration with the goals, and the victory, which defined Reagan's political life: "The great struggles of the 20th century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom — and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy and free enterprise.

These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society — and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages."

In this, W's seeming departure from traditional conservative non-interventionism wasn’t radical at all. It was merely the logical conclusion of the goals Reagan set forth in his second inaugural address: "America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally and it is the world's only hope to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace."

Reagan understood that to defeat the communist enemies of freedom we had to engage them on every battlefield of national power: cultural, economic and military. That is why he pumped up Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, supported the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, deployed America's technological and industrial prowess in merciless military competition with the Soviets and made liberating the captive people of the Soviet empire the foundation of his foreign policy.

Critics of George W. Bush's policies still don't seem to understand that we must apply the lesson of Reagan's success against communism to our present war with radical Islam. They whine about the dangers of "imposing" our values on others. We've heard those voices before, and listening to them frequently paralyzed our efforts against communism.

While George W. Bush was the originator of the “Islam is a religion of peace” lie, his national security strategy got the idea of how to defeat Islamism right; his problem was his implementation and the execution of the strategy by the very people with whom Jeb Bush has now surrounded himself.

To win the war with Islamism what we need now is a President who is willing and capable of carrying out that Reagan-inspired strategy with the same commitment and single-mindedness to win the war that Reagan had. Unfortunately, if elected , Jeb Bush, who couldn’t even use the words win or defeat in his foreign policy rollout, or identify the one thing his brother got right about the war against Islamism, won’t be that kind of President.

Click here to go to the C-SPAN video and transcript of Jeb Bush’s foreign policy rollout speech.

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