Saturday 21 September 2019

Bush wants more US troops in Middle East

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he wants more US troops in the Middle East
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he wants more US troops in the Middle East

Thomas Beaumont in South Carolina

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush yesterday called for the US to send more troops to the Middle East to fight Isil.

"This is the war of our time," Mr Bush said in a speech five days after Isil militants attacked Paris and killed 129 people.

"The United States, in conjunction with our Nato allies and more Arab partners, will need to increase our presence on the ground," he added.

He offered no specifics, but said the number of Americans sent to the region should be "in line with what our military generals - not politicians - recommend will be necessary to achieve our objective".

The speech came amid a fierce political debate within the US over whether to limit or halt the resettlement of refugees fleeing war-ravaged Syria.

Mr Bush, the brother and son of two presidents, is projecting himself as a potential commander-in-chief able to handle such challenges, as his presidential bid tries to gain traction in a primary campaign likely to be shaken up after the Paris attacks.

Viewed a year ago as the likely frontrunner, Mr Bush has failed to move to the top tier of Republican White House hopefuls in a field where political outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson and charismatic young lawmakers Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have eclipsed him. The state-by-state primary contests begin in February.

"The brutal savagery is a reminder of what is at stake in this election," Mr Bush said at The Military College of South Carolina, known as Citadel. "We are choosing the leader of the free world. And if these attacks remind us of anything, it's that we are living in serious times that require serious leadership."

Mr Bush has long faulted President Barack Obama's administration, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - the leading Democratic presidential candidate - for allowing wholesale federal spending cuts prompted by the 2013 budget reconciliation after Congress and the president were unable to craft more strategic cuts.

The cuts affected military and non-military spending alike, at a time when conflicts in Syria and Iraq "spiralled out of control as President Obama and Hillary Clinton failed to act", Mr Bush said.

But Mr Bush appears to be anticipating criticism that he would wage war in Iraq, as his father and brother did when they were president. "I think it's important for the next president to learn from the lessons of the past and use those lessons to focus on the future," he said.

Irish Independent

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