NHDP - ICYMI: Concord Monitor Op-Ed: Why Can't Bush Answer Simple Question on Iraq?

Key Point: Bush’s fumbling belied an alarming fact: A man running for president counts himself among an ever-shrinking group that still believes starting the Iraq War was a wise decision. At least, that’s what he believed at the beginning of the week.How could anyone, knowing now that the premise of the war was false, be unsure what decision they would make if given the chance? For a would-be commander in chief, this goes beyond poor judgment – it shows an unwillingness to learn from the past tantamount to willful ignorance.

 

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My Turn: Why can’t Bush answer simple question on Iraq?

By MICHAEL BREEN

 

Jeb Bush had a rough time trying to answer a question that is a no-brainer for virtually everyone else in America these days.
 

Over the course of a few days, the former Florida governor gave yes, “I don’t know” and no answers to the same question: Would he, knowing what he knows now, have made the same decision as his brother to invade Iraq? Bush’s fumbling belied an alarming fact: A man running for president counts himself among an ever-shrinking group that still believes starting the Iraq War was a wise decision.
 

At least, that’s what he believed at the beginning of the week...

 

The Iraq War was an ill-advised and unnecessary adventure that cost our nation immensely in blood and treasure. The consequences for our own national security and the region are playing out before our eyes, and they will continue to do so for decades to come.
 

The war led to a new regime in Iraq that was simultaneously repressive and ineffective. It made it easier for terrorist groups to recruit and mobilize a new generation of extremists, emboldened other adversaries of America in the region, and did great damage to our leadership and credibility on the world stage. Most tragically, it cost the lives of 4,491 courageous American men and women in uniform, and well over 130,000 Iraqi civilians.

The consequences speak for themselves. How could anyone, knowing now that the premise of the war was false, be unsure what decision they would make if given the chance? For a would-be commander in chief, this goes beyond poor judgment – it shows an unwillingness to learn from the past tantamount to willful ignorance.


No president gets to make decisions with the benefit of hindsight, and plenty of politicians and candidates made bad decisions about the Iraq War.
 

But when I served as an Army officer in Iraq, following every mission we would take the time to do an after action review because it kept us from repeating mistakes – mistakes that could cost lives. The relentless drive to examine and learn from every decision and every outcome is a basic expectation of a combat leader.


What’s true for an Army officer is surely true for a commander in chief...
 

America needs to see that our leaders have learned from a decade of sacrifice so that the mistakes of Iraq cannot be repeated.
 

It is up to Granite Staters on the front lines of national politics to make sure that every serious contender for president is held to this basic standard of good judgment and fundamental test of leadership.
 

(Michael Breen, a former Army captain, is the executive director of the Truman National Security Project.)
 

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