Jeb Bush says his foreign policy views differ from those of his family members

February 19, 2015 9:26 am
In his first major foreign policy speech since mooting a 2016
presidential run, yesterday sought to distance himself from the
legacy of his father and brother, while damning the Obama
administration for its “inconsistent and indecisive” approach to world
affairs.
Noting the inevitable comparisons between himself and
presidents George HW and George W Bush, the former governor of Florida
said: “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the
nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man
– and my views are shaped by my own thinking.”

Jeb Bush says his foreign policy views differ from those of his family members. Photo / AP
Mr Bush made the
remarks yesterday at an event hosted by non-partisan think-tank the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He was “lucky,” he said, to have a
father and brother who both “shaped America’s foreign policy from the
Oval Office.” But, he went on, “Every president inherits a changing
world… and changing circumstances.”
But while Mr Bush may claim
that his foreign policy views differ from those of his family members,
his brain trust is composed almost entirely of former advisers to his
father and brother.

Perhaps the most controversial name on Mr Bush’s team-sheet is
Paul Wolfowitz, who worked in the Reagan White House and for both Bush
administrations, and who, as George W Bush’s deputy defence secretary,
was a leading advocate for the invasion of Iraq.
Among other
foreign policy and diplomatic experts in the Bush camp are two former
secretaries of state who served under George HW Bush; two former
secretaries of homeland security and two former CIA directors who served
under George W Bush; George W Bush’s former national security adviser
Stephen Hadley, and his deputy, Meghan O’Sullivan.
Foreign policy
will be a key issue for any Republican presidential candidate, not
least because the nominee seems likely to face former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House. Under President Obama –
and by extension Ms Clinton – “We have lost the trust and the
confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our
enemies,” Mr Bush said.
The 62-year-old criticised the current
administration for failing to cultivate stronger ties with its allies in
Europe, Asia and Latin America, saying: “The great irony of the Obama
Presidency is this: someone who came to office promising greater
engagement with the world has left America less influential.”
His
comments come as the faces an array of foreign policy crises,
including rising tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and
the threat of Isis in the Middle East. Mr Bush has previously said that
he supports his brother’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, while
blaming Mr Obama for the recent decline of US influence in the region.
“I believe, fundamentally, that weakness invites war, and strength
encourages peace,” he said.
Mr Bush trumpeted his travel
experience, noting that he has visited Israel five times, and describing
signing a trade agreement with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon as “one of the greatest joys of my life.” The current Israeli
leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to address the US Congress on 3
March, against the wishes of the White House. “I, for one, am eager to
hear what he has to say,” Mr Bush said.
He also singled out the
Obama administration’s approach to talks with Iran, suggesting the White
House intended to simply “manage” the Iranian nuclear threat.

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