Jeb Bush’s First Foreign Policy Speech Emphasizes Militarism

Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

Former Florida governor and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush outlined a robust foreign policy objectives during a speech to potential campaign donors on Wednesday in Chicago. During the speech, Jeb Bush tried to distance himself from the legacy of his brother and father, but critics noted that 19 of the 21 advisers he has chosen have previously worked in at least one of the two former Bush administrations. In his speech he also criticized the Obama administration for weakening the military and vowed to strengthen it.

Now joining us to break down his speech is David Swanson. That’s David Swanson on the street. David is cofounder of War Is a Crime, director of The World Beyond War, and campaign coordinator of RootsAction, and also the author of War No More, The Case for Abolition.

Thank you so much for joining us.

DAVID SWANSON, COFOUNDER, WAR IS A CRIME: Yeah.

PERIES: So, David, Jeb Bush cites the assertive military policy of George W. Bush’s administration as an example that the Obama administration should have followed. What’s wrong with that?

SWANSON: Well, it’s a disastrous prescription for the world. First of all, his claim that the United States has lost respect in the Middle East is a raging chaotic disaster because of insufficient militarism just doesn’t stand up to the facts. It is the invasions and occupations.

The problem with Jeb Bush coming out and making this sort of speech and these sorts of errors and alleging that more militarism will bring us peace and discounting the wisdom of Eisenhower that this militarism gives us wars is that it distracts us from what’s happening right now. I mean, all the pundits are comparing Jeb to his brother, while President Obama has proposed the biggest military spending budget in the history of the world. And we need all hands on deck, all activists pushing back against the militarism and the new authorization for the use of military force. Instead, we’re getting distracted two years out by another election, which, if anything, Jeb Bush’s presence in this election proves that our electoral system is absolutely and completely broken and that we need to devote ourselves to policy-based activism. We have a petition at RootsAction. It’s actually at the website NoBushesOrClintons.org that is extremely popular because people are sick of these two dynasties and sick of the general policy that they all agree on.

PERIES: So, now, one of the things Jeb Bush emphasized is his alliance with Israel, and more specifically Bibi Netanyahu. Let’s have a look at that in his speech.

JEB BUSH, FMR. GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I want to take a moment to talk about the controversy surrounding Bibi Netanyahu’s joint session speech to Congress that’s coming up in the first week of March. I for one am really eager to hear what he has to say.

PERIES: So, David, why is it important for him to continue to corral with Bibi when Netanyahu is being so discredited internationally, and particularly in Washington with the Democrats, after his assertion to accept the invitation by the Republicans in the House to come and speak there?

SWANSON: Well, I’m going to promote another petition, that a number of great groups are working on at SkipTheSpeech.org that is getting some traction. And you have a lot of Congress members committing to skipping the speech. And rightly so, I think, in that this is a leader of a foreign nation coming to give the Congress its marching orders on a war, the one where that apparently President Obama doesn’t want. So you didn’t see Jeb Bush criticizing Obama on Ukraine or on Iraq in any direct way, rather on Iran, on the one war where the president is pursuing diplomacy rather than no-holds-barred militarism. And so here is an opportunity for Jeb Bush, who absolutely agrees with the current president and his predecessor on the NSA spying and all the other policies, and said so, to find some point of disagreement. And so he is going to side with the leader of a foreign nation rather than the president of the United States in order to make a distinction between these two parties that are so, so incredibly similar.

PERIES: And in your view, is there much difference between the former Bush–George W. in this case–and what Jeb Bush is so far outlining for the public?

SWANSON: Extremely little, despite the claims to be my own man. He is not his own man. He is the general consensus of elite militarized public opinion in the United States. And it’s not very different from that of President Obama. He is here talking to us about looking forward and not looking backward, because President Obama has had the explicit policy for years now of looking forward and not backward.

The Bush name ought to be inadmissible in public discourse in this country. His brother ought to be a convicted felon, as ought a number of the people he has selected as advisers. But his list of advisers is not dissimilar from President Obama’s. It’s got everybody but Henry Kissinger, who was over there busy advising President Obama. It’s just not a distinction worth talking about between these two characters. I mean, it’s a distinction largely of rhetoric. Jeb Bush wants to talk about intimidating people. He sounds a little more like Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama. But the end result is the same. And you look at President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, in which he praises the value of war, and you see great similarities between George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Jeb Bush, who claimed that the United States had liberated hundreds of millions of people. He didn’t cite any example.

PERIES: David, I want to thank you so much for coming on The Real News at such short notice and also freezing out there. So thank you so much.

SWANSON: Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

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