Jeb Bush on Foreign Policy

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect

US should shape events and build alliances of free people

My goal today is to explore how America can regain its leadership in the world. And why that leadership is more necessary than ever. American leadership projected consistently and grounded in principle has been a benefit to the world.

I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is such a force. Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust & the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.

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 in the world.

The United States has an undiminished ability to shape events and build alliances of free people. We can project power and enforce peaceful stability in far-off areas of the globe. To do so, I believe we need to root our foreign policy in a set of priorities and principles.

Source: Speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs , Feb 18, 2015

Pressured father's V.P. staff to help Cuban prisoners

Jeb Bush's most pointed pleas focused on the plight of Cuban exiles, an increasingly influential group by the time he arrived in Miami in 1980. Bush, who spoke fluent Spanish and had married a woman he met in Mexico, was quickly welcomed by Cubans, and he adopted their causes as his own, espousing their hard line against Fidel Castro's government.

Jeb Bush sought to arrange a meeting between his father and exile leaders. He called for economic sanctions that would "tighten the noose on Castro." And he questioned the Justice Department's prosecution of a Cuban militant who had already been incarcerated in "Castro's jail for 23 years."

Jeb Bush also sought a promotion for an Army colonel who he noted could become the first United States general of Cuban origin. The president's staff thought better of acting on that request. "Armed Services promotion board reacts very negatively to any sort of political pressure, perceived or otherwise," wrote one of his father's top aides.

Source: N. Y. Times 2015 profiles of 2016 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 15, 2015

Built schoolhouse in Mexico on a high school project

As Bush reached his third year at prep school, in the fall of 1969, his father was running for the US Senate on a pro-war platform even as antiwar protests grew on campus. But Bush wanted nothing to do with politics. Indeed, Bush wanted to get away from campus.

In the fall of 1970, he enrolled in a class called Man and Society, which featured seminars on "poverty, conflicts (violence) and power structure." At the conclusion of the course, students were given the option of spending the winter trimester either in South Boston or central Mexico. Bush chose the warmer locale. It was a decision that would change his life.

The trip to Mexico was designed to introduce a small group of students to another world, a village with an indigenous population where Andover boys would help build a cinder-block schoolhouse. Bush said at the time that he went to Mexico to learn Spanish and study the culture [but the 17-year-old Bush also met his future wife on that same trip].

Source: Boston Globe profiles of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Feb 1, 2015

Where do the three Bushes disagree on foreign affairs?

Where George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and George Bush Sr. agree on Foreign issues
  • All agree on keeping Cuba embargo
  • All agree on promoting free trade
  • All agree on increasing defense spending
  • All agree on supporting Israel
Where they disagree:George W. BushJeb BushGeorge Bush Sr.
Immigration: Focus on guest workersFocus on comprehensive reformFocus on voluntary action
Multilateralism:Opposes U.N.Wary of isolationismEventually embraced U.N.
China: Wary of ChinaCooperate with ChinaEmbrace China
Global Warming:Opposes KyotoSkeptical on KyotoNegotiated Kyoto
Source: Analysis: Jeb, George 41, and George 43 on the Issues , Jan 1, 2015

Strengthen the Cuban embargo instead of lifting it

Jeb Bush's call for strengthening the US embargo of Cuba signals a get-tough approach to foreign policy sure to please his political base of Cuban-American conservatives. Bush's stance sets up a clear contrast to Hillary Clinton, who wants to lift the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba.

"I would argue that instead of lifting the embargo we should consider strengthening it again to put pressure on the Cuban regime," Bush told cheering supporters at a gathering of the US Cuba Democracy PAC, a pro-embargo advocacy group.

Bush did not spell out proposals for strengthening the embargo. But he implied that he wanted to reverse travel rules made by President Obama that allow Cuban-Americans to make unlimited trips to visit relatives. "Thousands of people travel to Cuba from the US , spending billions of dollars," Bush said. "Would lifting the embargo change the fact that the government receives almost all of the money that comes from these well-intended people that travel to the island?"

Source: Sun-Sentinel 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 3, 2014

We are leader among equals in community of nations

Bush said relatively little about his brother or his father in [his foreign policy speech to the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC]. He spent far more time talking about President Obama. Bush said the current president violated his first foreign-policy precept: to lead both the United States and the world. "We are not an equal partner in this so-called community of nations. We are a leader among equals," Bush said. "First, I think the United States needs to lead. Lead with humility. Lead with respect. But lead."

In calling for a foreign policy laced with "humility," Bush echoed his brother's call in 2000 to have a "humble" foreign policy. A year later, the US became far more interventionist after the 9/11 attacks, which ultimately helped lead the nation into invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: Miami Herald 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 2, 2014

Words matter: presidents should mean it when they say it

One of Bush's precepts was more of a slogan: "Words matter." He said that time and again, Obama has made threats or promises and then failed to act: "Presidents need to set United States aspirations and intentions where there is little gap between words and deeds," Bush said. "Think of the 'Russian reset.' Think of the 'Syrian red line.' Think of the 'pivot to Asia.' Think of taking out ISIS."

Bush said Obama failed to accomplish any of these goals: "It undermines our credibility in the world. Our allies don't trust us. And our enemies don't fear us. There is no situation worse for stability and peace than that," Bush said. "The iron rule of superpower deterrent is 'mean it when you say it.' And it has been broken by this president."

Source: Miami Herald 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 2, 2014

Nourish our existing alliances: that means NATO & Israel

Bush outlined a series of principles as necessary for an effective U.S. foreign policy: "The appropriate traditional foreign policy," Bush said, "requires you to nourish the alliances that exist in the world and have kept us safe. That means NATO. That means our relationship with Israel. These alliances have been built by American leadership and we need to nourish them so that they're real rather than just paper tigers."

Bush also blamed Obama for "gutting the military and our intelligence capabilities in a world where these asymmetric threats are real." Bush concluded that "in every one of those four or five principles of foreign policy I would say that the president's let us down." In explaining Obama's failures, Bush noted, "you need to lead, and reacting is not leadership."

Source: Theodore Kettle on Newsmax.com, "Rise of ISIS" , Oct 31, 2014

Passivity hasn't worked on Russia and Ukraine

Bush has joined Chris Christie and other center-right Republicans in criticizing President Obama for alleged "passivity." In a private speech in March to Sheldon Adelson and the Republican Jewish Coalition, Bush slammed Obama on Russia and Ukraine: "He was very rough on the president in terms of his handling of foreign policy, referring to the dangers of 'American passivity.'" said [one attendee].

Back in 2012, [one pundit wrote in] Foreign Policy: "The next Republican nominee will need distance both from George W. Bush's foreign policy and from Mitt Romney's campaign. Even Jeb Bush--particularly Jeb Bush--would have to look like he was taking a very different approach to foreign policy than his brother."

Source: Bob and Barbara Dreyfuss in The Nation magazine , May 30, 2014

Leading from behind is so odd to me

[At the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum], Jeb Bush signaled the kind of campaign he would mount if he runs for president, one arguing against ideological purity tests while challenging party orthodoxy on issues like immigration and education.

Even as he sharply criticized President Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and health care, Bush made clear that he would run against the style of politics that has characterized recent Republican nominating contests.

He was more willing to criticize Obama, naturally. "Leading from behind is so odd to me," he said of the president's foreign policy. And he said it was absurd for Obama to be "doing a victory dance" over the enrollment of seven million people in his new health care program given what Bush considers its deep structural flaws.

Source: Peter Baker in N.Y. Times, "Jeb Talks Approach" , Apr 7, 2014

2010: Ineptitude will bring down Chavez regime in Venezuela

Although he rarely comments on foreign policy, Bush has appeared particularly unwilling to push back against the neoconservatives who supported his brother's administration, at times echoing their complaints about the Obama administration's foreign policy. In February 2010, for example, Bush told Newsmax that he didn't think "the military option should ever be taken off the table" with respect to Iran, adding in November that the Obama administration's policies toward the country had "empower[ed] bad behavior in Tehran." Bush also mused that "sheer ineptitude and incompetency and corruption will bring down the [Hugo] Chavez regime" in Venezuela, "but we can't sit back passively and let this happen naturally." Instead, Bush advocated offering U.S. support to "elements of Venezuelan society that are fighting back against" the democratically elected Chavez, who eventually died of cancer in early 2013 after being resoundingly reelected.
Source: International Relations Center "RightWeb" on Jeb Bush , Apr 1, 2014

Neo-isolationism and American passivity both have dangers

Jeb Bush attacked the White House's approach to foreign policy in a speech given to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Bush focused on economic policy in his remarks but also impressed the pro-Israel group with his defense of muscular American foreign policy.

"He showed a lot of knowledge about foreign policy that he must have been working hard to acquire," said Ari Fleischer, the former White House Press Secretary and a board member of the RJC, noting Bush discussed diplomatic challenges presented by countries like Ukraine, Russia and Moldova. "He was very rough on the president in terms of his handling of foreign policy, referring to the dangers of 'American passivity.'"

The son and brother of presidents, Bush cautioned the Republican party against "neo-isolationism," a line universally understood as a shot at Rand Paul. Bush also pushed back on Democratic attacks that whenever a Republican calls for a more activist foreign policy that they are "warmongering."

Source: Time Magazine, "American Passivity" , Mar 28, 2014

South Korea success: 1952 devastation to 2014 first-world

I want to tell a story about a country that was the poorest country on the planet in 1952. The country was Korea: a country that had been ravaged by war; a country that had the highest illiteracy rate in the world; a country with no natural resources; devastated in every possible way.

Fast forward. Over 62 years, not that long in historical terms, Korea now is a first-world country. Korea has the highest literacy rate of all the countries in the world. Korean moms and dads, some of them, save everything they have, to assure that their children get tutorial help. When Pres. Obama was in Korea a year ago, he asked, "What is the big challenge that you face in Korea today?" it's that parents want to start English in 4th grade instead of 5th grade, and it's creating enormous political pressure on the system. But If you make a command-focused commitment to education, you can change the course of a country's future.

Source: Speech at PPF 2013 Empower SC Conference , Jun 27, 2013

Supports economic cooperation between US and China

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, calling for closer cooperation between China and the United States.

For his part, Bush said that he will continue making contributions to the development of bilateral ties and economic cooperation between the two nations.

Source: Xinhua News (China), "Xi meets Jeb Bush" , Jan 17, 2012

Honorary Cuban to exile community in Miami

Fidel Castro may have died by the time Jeb can make it to the Oval Office, but what if he hasn't? What then is the man who many Miami Cubans consider an "honorary Cuban" to do? Invade? The pressure for him to do something beyond merely continuing the embargo will be intense, given his heated rhetoric over the last quarter century.

In Miami, when the exile community speaks, Jeb listens. For years, he has listened--and then acted.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the city was the nexus of anticommunist activism in Central America. Jeb, who spoke their language fluently. Jeb, who accepted without reservation their need to overthrow leftist governments and hunt down and kill leftist rebels. Jeb, who would show up in a guayabera shirt at rallies, chanting "Libre! Libre!" with everyone else.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.339 , Feb 15, 2007

Two years in Venezuela; majored in Latin American studies

In at least one way, a Jeb-directed foreign policy would be different from that of his brother, if only because Jeb would take personal interest in it. George is not a details guy. Jeb is. George also was open about his lack of interest in countries other than our own.

Jeb, in contrast, not only majored in Latin American studies but actually lived for the better part of two years in Venezuela without the accoutrements of officialdom. Whether this results in a different overall direction or merely a more competent version of the same old story cannot be known.

Overall, though, it is hard to imagine that the basic thrust of American diplomacy would be terribly different. Jeb would have far more knowledge of this hemisphere, but countries in South and Central America need to understand that this is not necessarily a good thing. It's not enough, for example, to be a democratic nation. You must also then vote for pro-capitalist leaders.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.344 , Feb 15, 2007

1988: Joined relief effort for Armenian earthquake

In 1988 a terrible earthquake devastated Armenia and killed at least 50,000 people. Into this void stepped AmeriCares, a wonderful relief organization started by Dad's grade school classmate Bob McCauley. McCauley planned to send a plane loaded with medical supplies to Yerevan. So my brother Jeb & his 12-year-old son, George P., volunteered to go.

Just about every structure was off of its foundation. There were people literally walking through the street with very little clothes on and starving. "With tears in his eyes, the son of President-elect George Bush presented candy and gifts today to brighten the Christmas of children injured in Armenia's earthquake," read the article. "This is probably the greatest Christmas gift I could give myself or my own," Jeb was quoted.

"The best thing about that was Gorbachev telling me afterwards that when Jeb went to church in Armenia and shed a tear there, it did more for the US-Russia relationship than anything I could possibly imagine," Dad recalled.

Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.269-270 , Oct 6, 2006

1990: Defended anti-Castro terrorist as patriot in exile

Jeb petitioned the Justice Department in 1990 on behalf of Orlando Bosch, who was in prison for having entered the US illegally. The anti-Castro terrorist, who was implicated in a car-bombing assassination and was notorious for having masterminded the bombing of a Cubana Airlines Flight in Oct. 1976, which killed all 73 on board.

At the time George H. W. Bush was CIA director. The US sanctioned terrorism against Cuba and routinely trained commandos to infiltrate the island. Jeb, who planned to run for governor of Florida, represented a rabid anti-Castro constituency, a voting bloc that held his father's anti-Castro actions at the CIA in the highest esteem. Jeb's public support for paroling Bosch further enhanced his standing in the Cuban community, which considered Bosch a patriot in exile and honored him for his murderous bombings around the globe. At this son's behest, George Bush intervened to obtain the release of the Cuban terrorist from prison and later granted Bosch US residency.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.407-408 , Sep 14, 2004

Support Israel in its battle against terrorism

Gov. Jeb Bush pledged to support Israel in its battle against terrorism and said Americans have a better understanding of the fear Israelis face daily after living through the Sept. 11 attacks. In a speech celebrating Israel's 56th Independence Day, Bush lauded his brother, President Bush, for reinforcing the alliance between the two countries at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Gov. Bush said the April 14 meeting "made little doubt about our country's commitment to Israel and the vision of two states living in peace and security."

President Bush endorsed Sharon's offer to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in exchange for concessions on settlements. Palestinians criticized the plan. Gov. Bush said, "This new US policy, I think, will bring about the chance of lasting peace far better than the current status quo. And if there's any attempt to impose a different vision, the US is committed to intervene and provide support to the state of Israel."

Source: Associated Press in St. Petersburg Times , Apr 27, 2004

Role in the world: military strength and moral clarity.

Bush signed Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles

American foreign policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategi

Source: PNAC Principles 97-PNAC-FP on Jun 3, 1997

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