September 01, 2015

Between Iraq and a Hawk Base

By Richard Fontaine

Source: The New York Times Magazine

Journalist(s) Robert Draper

The first sign that the Republican Party’s 17 presidential candidates might have trouble explaining what a conservative foreign policy should look like — beyond simply saying that it should not look like Barack Obama’s — emerged on May 10. That’s when the Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush a rather predictable question about the Iraq war: ‘‘Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?’’

Bush said yes. Shortly after that, he said that he had misheard the question; later, that the question was hypothetical and thus unworthy of an answer; and finally, upon further review, that he in fact would not have authorized the invasion. The jittery about-face suggested that Bush had spent little, if any, time digesting the lessons of the war that defines his older brother’s presidency.

The shadow that George W. Bush’s foreign policy casts over Jeb Bush’s quest for the White House is particularly prominent. But it also looms over the entire G.O.P. field, reminding the candidates that though Republican voters reject what they see as Obama’s timid foreign policy, the public has only so much appetite for bellicosity after more than a decade spent entangled in the Middle East. At some point, even the most conservative of voters will demand an answer to the logical corollary of Megyn Kelly’s question: How does a president project American strength while avoiding another Iraq?

Read the full article at The New York Times Magazine.

  • Richard Fontaine

    President

    Richard Fontaine is the President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He served as a Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow at CNAS from 2009-2012 and previously as fo...