WASHINGTON -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has found himself ensnared in his brother's legacy this week, facing questions over whether he would have sent the country to war with Iraq. On Wednesday, Bush argued that he shouldn't even be asked such "hypothetical" questions because they were insulting to... American service members.
On Monday, Fox News aired an interview between Bush and host Megyn Kelly, in which she asked him whether he would have invaded Iraq in 2003, "[k]nowing what we know now" about the inaccurate weapons of mass destruction claims. Bush said he would have authorized the war, just like his brother did.
After several prominent conservatives criticized Bush's answer, the likely GOP presidential candidate said Tuesday that he "interpreted the question wrong."
"I don't know what that decision would have been -- that's a hypothetical," he added. "Simple fact is, mistakes were made."
It's unlikely that this issue is going away anytime soon. Indeed, while on the campaign trail in Reno, Nevada, Wednesday, voters continued to press Bush on national security. According to ABC News, Bush then said that questioning him about what he would have done on Iraq was essentially unpatriotic:
“If we’re going to get into hypotheticals I think it does a disservice for a lot of people that sacrificed a lot,” Bush said after explaining that as governor of Florida he called the family members of service men and women who lost their lives in the war.
He added: “Going back in time and talking about hypotheticals -- what would have happened, what could have happened -- I think, does a disservice for them. What we ought to be focusing on is what are the lessons learned.”
The invasion of Iraq is widely regarded to be among one of the worst foreign-policy decisions made by any president and has altered the trajectory of Middle East history in ways that continue to reverberate on a daily basis. In the violence that followed, thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of people in the region, have died or had their lives upended.
During the presidency of Bush's brother, it was common for Iraq War critics to be branded as anti-military or undermining the troops. Republicans labeled calls for withdrawal as a desire to "cut and run" and a "surrender to our enemy." The Democratic Party responded by recruiting a host of veterans to run for Congress.
The Bush campaign didn't return a request for additional comment.
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