This past week Ted Cruz tossed his hat into the presidential race. If you eventually got past TedCruz.com, which supports President Obama, and TedCruzForAmerica.com, which takes you to the Obamacare website, and even TedCruz.ca, which points out that he's Canadian-born, you'll finally -- finally -- be taken to Cruz's presidential campaign website at TedCruz.org.
And on that page, as the first bullet point under his positions and record on national security and the military, Cruz states that he "[o]pposed the Obama Administration's dangerous deal with Iran that would allow Iran to pursue nuclear weapons."
By "deal with Iran that would allow Iran to pursue nuclear weapons," he means the deal that would end, in a matter of months, Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons that they would use to threaten the entire world.
It occurred to us at VoteVets.org that there will be a lot of statements from conservative candidates for president that range from "fudged" to "completely wrong." Most of these statements are easy to predict. So, as a public service, here's a cheat sheet for you, so when you hear those statements, you know why they're just not right.
President Obama lost Iraq by pulling out too early.
This is always a favorite line of the GOP. Of course, to someone who doesn't know any better, it makes a ton of sense: If President Obama had just kept our troops there, everything would be better. Here's why that isn't true.
First and foremost, the Iraqis didn't want us there anymore. They made that abundantly clear when they got President Bush to sign a Status of Forces Agreement that required the U.S. to end its large-scale presence by the end of 2011. When you liberate a country and give them self-rule, you kind of have to go with their wishes.
Second, a major reason they wanted us gone was that they didn't want our troops to have immunity. They wanted our troops to be tried in Iraqi courts and held in Iraqi prisons if they deemed that necessary and appropriate. We would never agree to such an arrangement, and so President Bush wisely agreed to leave Iraq.
Third, Iraq was always destined to fall back into chaos because President Bush backed a prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who is a Shiite who exacted political revenge on the Sunni minority in Iraq by driving them out of positions of power, including in the military. The underlying issues in Iraq were political, are political, and always will be political. As long as the minority feels like it has to fight against the Shia government for rights and stability, Iraq will be a mess. This more than anything has allowed groups like ISIS the space they need to operate in majority-Sunni regions.
President Obama's weakness on national security led to ISIS.
As Joe Biden would say, that's a bunch of malarkey. As discussed above, the space that ISIS has been given to operate largely is a byproduct of the Iraqi government continually driving Sunnis out of any position of influence. For example, I still talk with members of the Iraqi Army whom I trained as part of my second tour in Iraq. Almost immediately they reported to me that Nouri al-Maliki's government started firing Sunni officers and replacing them with untrained or undertrained Shia. When a group like ISIS comes along and starts fighting such a government, all too often Sunnis will give them the space to operate -- if not join them.
Moreover, many of the ISIS fighters are made up of the very same Sunni insurgents we fought in Iraq -- former members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Nusra Front, and more. Many of them packed their bags, moved up into Syria, joined with other splintered radicals, and became ISIS.
So if you want to peg just one good reason that ISIS exists, it is because of our invasion of Iraq. Had we not invaded Iraq, there would have been no strong insurgency that eventually morphed into ISIS.
President Obama should have armed "moderates" in Syria more; if we had, there'd be no ISIS.
This is a favorite of John McCain and others: If President Obama had just supported "moderate" fighters in Syria, there would have been no attraction for people to join ISIS.
The truth of the matter is that President Obama did send arms and advisers to help the so-called moderates. And what happened to some of them?
They broke up, and their weapons were obtained by ISIS, which helped escalate the terror group's growth.
Iran is happy we're not fighting ISIS.
This has to be one of the more idiotic things to come out of a presidential contender's mouth. Iran is fighting ISIS. As explained before, ISIS is Sunni. Iran is Shia. Iran doesn't want to see ISIS overthrow Iraq's Shia-led government.
So not only is it false to say Iran wouldn't like us fighting ISIS, but it is also wrong to say that we aren't fighting ISIS. Americans have executed over 2,500 air strikes against ISIS, helping Iraqis and others push ISIS back.
Negotiating with Iran is like Chamberlain negotiating with Hitler.
It is odd that when Democrats work diplomatic channels first to lessen a nuclear threat, it immediately becomes 1938 when it is actually more like the 1980s.
The Soviet Union did nearly everything that Iran has. It used inflammatory, destructive rhetoric aimed at the United States. It used proxy forces and regimes to wage destructive campaigns to spread communism. It openly threatened our very way of life and sought its ultimate destruction. Ronald Reagan called it, for that reason, "the evil empire."
And still he sat down with them, which led to agreements and treaties in which not only the Soviet Union would give up some nuclear capability but so would we.
Reagan was tough, and he didn't roll over for the Soviets. But he engaged in long negotiations and struck the best deal possible to move the world away from nuclear destruction.
No deal with Iran has been signed yet. Indications are that on a number of matters, the United States and its allies will not give in to Iranian demands. So they're not rolling over for the Iranians. But they're talking.
If President Obama is weak for talking to Iran, then, logically, Ronald Reagan was even weaker for talking and negotiating with the Soviets.
But you'll never hear a GOP presidential candidate admit that.
We should allow veterans to seek care outside the VA and pay for it.
The scandal that rocked the VA over excessive wait times to get care and excessive backlogs in processing claims was terrible. It was also a problem that was, literally, years in the making. Before Secretary Eric Shinseki, not a single VA secretary, Democrat or Republican, tried to get the VA to move to a modern, computerized system. And the VA never prepared for the influx of veterans when we launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to overstretched facilities cooking their books to avoid punishment.
There is no doubt that veterans shouldn't have to rely on the VA for everything. But what Republican candidates, backed by the Koch-brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America, talk about is the beginning of the end of the pact we make with our veterans to give them the care they need. What they want is the privatization of veterans' care: Fight for your country and get a voucher.
What this would do is severely underfund the department, leaving veterans out in the cold when it comes to many of their service-connected injuries. For example, VA centers are often equipped to deal with amputations and traumatic brain injuries in a way that a local doctor or hospital might not be. But if we voucherize the system, local VA centers and hospitals would be forced to shutter their doors. For veterans in need of specialized care -- both physical and mental -- they may not have an able caregiver to turn to in their area.
Furthermore, the VA, despite the bad press, continues to far outpace private care in national customer satisfaction surveys. Veterans like the care they get at the VA. A lot. Closing the VA is the first step toward ending other popular programs like Medicare. In fact, that's what this whole fight is about.
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There you have it: some of the most frequent talking points you'll hear from the GOP presidential candidates as they all start announcing their campaigns, and why those talking points are not correct.