“Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Following a rough week, Jeb Bush on Wednesday tried to aim the spotlight away from the decision to go into Iraq and focused it instead on President Barack Obama, sharply criticizing his decision to pull U.S. forces out of the country. The former Florida governor, appearing at a business roundtable, also called for a strategy to “take out” ISIS but did not go into specifics. He mostly argued that the war started during his brother’s administration helped create stability in Iraq and has since been unraveled because of Obama’s policies.
““The focus ought to be on knowing what you know now, Mr. President, should you have kept 10,000 troops in Iraq?” said Bush, who’s expected to announce his presidential bid in the coming months. In December 2011, the United States withdrew its final combat troops from Iraq, bringing an end to the nearly decade-long conflict that started under George W. Bush. The Obama administration asked for more troops to remain on the ground, but negotiations with the Iraqi government did not ensure that U.S. military personnel would be granted immunity.
“Jeb Bush argued that Obama “could have kept the troops in and he could have had an agreement,” adding “the United States had enough influence to be able to deal with the immunity issue.” Bush also told reporters in New Hampshire: “He made the decision to get out. I don’t begrudge him that. It was a decision made based on a campaign promise. It wasn’t based on conditions in Iraq at the time and I think we’re paying a price for it.”
“In remarks at the business roundtable, Bush also defended his brother’s leadership during the Iraq war: “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was President. Al Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when my brother was President. There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure, but the surge created a fragile but stable Iraq that the President could’ve built on and it would’ve not allowed ISIS.”
“If we’re really looking for someone to blame for the Islamic State, it should be President Obama,” Bush told Newslo in an exclusive interview in New Hampshire. “He was literally given an oppression-free Iraqi nation, which, as I said, was fragile but clean. And what has he done? He’s essentially allowed the snakes back into the snake pit. And for what? So that he would have leverage against Israel in the Middle East, which, to remind you, has been a friend of the United States for decades. That’s something I just can’t wrap my head around.”