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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 11:32

Jeb Bush Needs to Be Held Accountable for His PNAC Role in Urging Iraq War

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aaaaaaaaaaaaaajebmissionJeb Bush is an accomplice in the ruinous neocon policies that led to the Iraq War. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

In response to our detailed accounting yesterday of how George W. Bush ignored repeated warnings prior to 9/11 of a catastrophic al-Qaeda attack on US soil, a reader wrote in the comments section:

Roll the whole [pre-9/11 warnings to President Bush] scene again, same exact script, but [now] put President Obama in place of GW Bush. Would Jeb Bush...say that "Obama kept us safe"? Would any Republican say this?

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In fact, Jeb Bush has blamed another president for 9/11 in an attempt to excuse his brother's failure to respond to the urgent concerns of the intelligence community about a likely al-Qaeda attack. On October 20, according to a Washington Post article, 

Jeb Bush, under fire from Republican rival Donald Trump over his brother's anti-terror policies, launched an attack on the same subject against Bill Clinton Monday night, charging that the 42nd president's administration did not pursue Osama bin Laden aggressively enough.... 

In the report, which details a Jeb Bush interview with Fox right-wing shill Sean Hannity, Bush also blames Obama for pursuing a policy of "policing" against "Islamic terrorists." Jeb charges that neither Clinton nor Obama understand that what is at stake "is a war against Western civilization."

There is more at work in Jeb's efforts to defend his brother against the Trump charge that 9/11 "happened on his watch." Another goal that Jeb may be trying to accomplish: diverting attention from his own role in urging a catastrophically disastrous war with Iraq. 

As a commentary by CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem recently concluded,

Supporters of George W. Bush will say that critics need to move on and stop blaming him. Nothing could be further from the truth. The limitations of our power today, Arab unrest, the rise of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, the re-emergence of the Taliban and, of course, a vulnerable homeland all begin with the original sin of Iraq. For those who say "move on," the only response is just to focus on the headlines. We simply can't. 

Jeb Bush was quite supportive of the neocon pro-Iraq War organization known as PNAC (Project for the New American Century). PNAC - which disbanded as a formal group in 2006 - was formed by neocons in 1997. Its objective was to encourage President Clinton to pursue a more militaristic foreign policy n order to expand and ensure US global dominance.

As the Center for Media and Democracy Source Watch recalls,

PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," openly advocated for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration....

In 1998, the group wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott (then Senate Majority Leader) and Newt Gingrich (then Speaker of the House of Representatives), demanding a harder line against Iraq. By then, the group had grown in numbers, adding individuals such as former Reagan-era U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and long-time Washington cold warrior/pro-Likud Richard N. Perle.... 

Several original PNAC members, including CheneyKhalilzad and the Bush family, have ties to the oil industry. Many other members have been long-time fixtures in the U.S. military establishment or Cold War "strategic studies," including Elliott AbramsDick CheneyPaula DobrianskyAaron FriedbergFrank GaffneyFred C. Ikle,Peter W. RodmanStephen P. RosenHenry S. RowenDonald H. RumsfeldJohn R. BoltonVin Weber, and Paul Dundes Wolfowitz

The 1998 letter from PNAC urged "regime change" in Iraq by whatever means necessary. It invoked what would become the subsequent fictional casus belli for the launching of the Iraq War: the idea that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (which was, as we know, disproven after the devastating war began):

And despite his defeat in the Gulf War, continuing sanctions, and the determined effort of UN inspectors to fetter out and destroy his weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein has been able to develop biological and chemical munitions. To underscore the threat posed by these deadly devices, the Secretaries of State and Defense have said that these weapons could be used against our own people....

What is needed now is a comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime. 

In a 2000 PNAC report urging a more muscular US military presence in the world, including the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the group infamously stated that "the process of transformation [toward more military spending and worldwide military intervention], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." That reference has added much fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories about 9/11 and charges that the Bush administration may have willfully ignored warnings about a devastating terrorist attack. The thinking of those who make such accusations is that a major terrorist attack would serve as "a new Pearl Harbor" to dispose of Saddam Hussein and increase the US military and intelligence presence around the globe.

Jeb Bush was signatory to the formation of PNAC and has endorsed almost all of its principles (even after its formal dissolution) up to and including his current presidential campaign. That means that Jeb holds part of the collective responsibility for creating the false frame that "justified" the Iraq War - and for focusing on conventional military force expansion at the expense of taking heed of terrorism threats from non-nation states. 

In short, Jeb needs to defend his brother because otherwise his culpability as a supporter of the PNAC principles would call his personal advocacy of the Iraq War and of the cover story of "weapons of mass destruction" for the war into a present-day campaign issue. Because Jeb was governor of Florida from 1999-2007, he was not directly involved in the Iraq War, but he was a full-fledged member of the neocon PNAC club that became the nucleus of Bush-era military policy.

Jeb Bush's PNAC positions ensured that we would not be "safe" from an implosion in the Middle East, a rise in the number of people drawn to terrorism because of the chaos unleashed by the invasion of Iraq, and the inexorable death and casualty toll of the Iraq War.

Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout.