Jeb Bush on offense: Clinton and Obama opened door for ISIS

Jeb Bush criticized Hillary Clinton in a speech Tuesday for her part in the Obama administration's withdrawal of troops from Iraq, resulting in 'tragic consequences.'

David Goldman/AP
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta on Saturday. Bush will step up his criticism of Hillary Rodham Clinton and her tenure as secretary of state on Tuesday, arguing in a speech on foreign policy the Democratic frontrunner shares in the mistakes that he argues led to the rise of the Islamic State.

In a speech on foreign policy he will give Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is slated to condemn his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for what he believes was her role in events that contributed to the ascent of the Islamic State militant group.

Mr. Bush’s campaign has released excerpts of his speech, which will call for greater US leadership in the Middle East.

"The threat of global jihad, and of the Islamic State in particular, requires all the strength, unity and confidence that only American leadership can provide," he will say.

If President Obama, with the support of Mrs. Clinton, then-Secretary of State, had not withdrawn US troops from Iraq in 2011 in “blind haste to get out and to call the tragic consequences somebody else’s problem,” the country would not have experienced the instability and turmoil that led to the Islamic State’s formation, Bush's speech charges.

The United States withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011 under an agreement reached with the Iraqi government in 2008, during George W. Bush's administration. Mr. Obama had attempted to negotiate to keep some troops in the country after that deadline, but he ultimately decided to withdraw all troops after the Iraqi government balked at his insistence that they be granted immunity. It is that decision, and subsequent reluctance to engage in the region that the former Florida governor says allowed fertile ground for the Islamic State to grow.

"ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat," Bush's speech reads. Meanwhile, Clinton "stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away. In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once."

How Bush would fight the Islamic State remains unclear; he has said he would allow US military forces to guide airstrikes alongside Iraqi forces, which they cannot do right now, but has not said how many US troops he would send. He also has said he supports a no-fly zone in Syria but has not talked about deploying US forces there.

Vague plans may not be enough for very long, as The Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumbull reported following the first Republican debate Thursday:

When the general election rolls into view, a nominee will need credible plans, not just a critique of Obama and Clinton.

Kori Schake, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, underscored this point in a June commentary: ‘How, for example, do Republicans aim to sustain the sanctions regime against Iran when Europeans are essential to that undertaking and all favor the nuclear deal? How can they destroy the Islamic State without addressing the failures of governance that make its gains possible?’

Since the Islamic State’s emergence and subsequent rise to power in Iraq and Syria a year ago, the Obama administration has introduced about 3,500 US military trainers and advisers into Iraq and has led 6,000 airstrikes with allied forces. Still, the militant group has expanded to nearby Lybia, Afghanistan, and Egypt, and is replenishing its forces at a rate comparable to that at which the US and its allies are eliminating them, US intelligence agencies have said.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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