Jeb Bush wouldn't hesitate to start 'third Bush war'

David Knowles
Bloomberg News

Jeb Bush may be his own man, but that would not stop him from starting a war in the Middle East like his father and brother before him.

Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt radio show this week, Bush said that his family legacy would not be a factor in how he would handle potential military conflicts if the safety of the American people were at risk.

Asked by Hewitt whether he would be "overly cautious about using force for fear of having a 'third Bush war' occur," Bush was resolute.

"No, that's an interesting question, and I'm glad you asked it. It wouldn't, if I was, if I decide to go forward with a race and I'm fortunate enough to go through that whole process, and God willing, win, then I would have a duty to protect the United States," Bush responded, adding, "I wouldn't be conflicted by any legacy issues of my family. I actually, Hugh, am quite comfortable being George Bush's son and George Bush's brother. It's something that gives me a lot of comfort on a personal level, and it certainly wouldn't compel me to act one way or the other based on the strategies that we would be implementing and the conditions that our country would be facing."

Hewitt followed up by asking whether conservatives should worry that the former governor would be reluctant to use U.S. military power in the Muslim world.

"I don't think there's anything that relates to what my dad did or what my brother did that would compel me to think one way or the other. I think that history's a good guide for our country. And the simple fact is you start with the premise that America's role in the world is a force for good, not for bad things to happen, you'll have, lessen the likelihood of having to use military force around the world."

Bush's answers echoed sentiments he'd expressed in a speech last week at the Chicago Foreign Affairs Council.

"As you might know, I've been fortunate to have a father and a brother who helped shape America's foreign policy from the Oval Office. I recognize as a result that my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs," Bush said in Chicago. "In fact, this is a great fascinating thing in the political world, for some reason, sometimes in contrast to theirs. Look, just for the record, one more time, I love my brother. I love my dad. I actually love my mother, I hope that's OK. And I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions that they had to make, but I'm my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences."

On Wednesday, Hewitt was able to draw out some of the most specific answers on Bush's views on engaging in military conflict by asking whether the presumptive candidate would "hesitate to use ground forces in substantial numbers in Iraq a third time" in order to combat the Islamic State. This gave Bush a chance to put the blame for the ongoing conflict on the man who succeeded his brother in the White House.

"Well, had we kept the 10,000 troop commitment that was there for the president to negotiate and to agree with, we probably wouldn't have ISIS right now," Bush asserted. "So to reflect on this, there is a, by putting all these preconditions, the president has really weakened our hand. And so look, I can't speculate about the size of a commitment going forward. It may not be necessary. But it looks to me like the president is currently building up some military support in Iraq. It may actually get back to the level that had he kept the 10,000 there, we wouldn't have had the mess to begin with."

In regards to the Democrat that Bush could likely face if he prevails in the Republican primary, Hewitt poised another question that, once again, hit on the question of legacy.

"And then the last question, Governor, what's the message to the newly emerging democracies, that the world's oldest democracy keeps recycling Bushes and Clintons and Clintons and Bushes?" Hewitt asked. "Does it send the wrong message to the Nigerias and the Indias of the world about dynasty?"

"If the campaigns are about, if the campaign's about a dynasty, I'm not sure that that's' going to work," Bush replied. "If it's about how you advance ideas that will help people rise up, then it will be an inspiration for others. And that's what we need to do. We need to be talking about the future by fixing a few really big, complicated things, to allow the middle to rise, and for people stuck at the bottom to rise up as well. And we can do it. That's the good news, is the inspiration of America is going to be when we start growing at 4 percent per year rather than 2 percent per year. We will inspire the world to emulate us."