GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has begun attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in several areas, including her involvement in the United States’ relations with Iraq during her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
During a speech on Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Bush blamed both Clinton and President Obama, claiming that they let the U.S. retreat from Iraq which gave way to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat and where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this?” Bush said. “Like the President himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and Ally forces was thrown away.”
While many would point towards Bush’s father, former President George Bush, who ordered the nation’s first invasion of Iraq in 1990, or to his brother, former President George W. Bush, who began the Iraq war in 2003 and called for additional forces in 2006, Jeb Bush insisted that Obama’s “minimalist approach of incremental escalation,” along with Clinton standing by, was to blame for the rise of ISIS.
“Right now, we have around 3,500 soldiers and marines in Iraq, and more may well be needed,” said Bush, who went on to explain that he would also send U.S. forces to Iraq as “spotters” looking for enemy targets and that he would provide more support to Iraqi Kurds fighting ISIS.
In response, Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy advisor and former aide at the State Department, told the New York Times that he sees Bush’s comments as “a pretty bold attempt to rewrite history and reassign responsibility.”
Bush claimed that “in all of her record-setting travels” as Secretary of State, Clinton “stopped by Iraq only once.”
Sullivan insisted that the key issue was not “how many times does the plane touch down at the airport,” rather it was “how intensive and effective is the engagement that leads to progress.”
ISIS was also the topic of one of the questions at last week’s GOP debate. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was asked about the United States’ involvement with ISIS, and he noted that while the U.S. did not create ISIS directly, it is responsible for the group obtaining at least a billion dollars in Humvees deserted by the United States.
Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, and he noted that the group grew drastically after it seized Humvees, tanks and weaponry left behind by the U.S. and that even when the U.S. government “became aware that ISIS fighters were capturing U.S. equipment, it did nothing.”
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