Many of Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Advisors Should Be Brought Before the International Criminal Court

It is still extremely early in 2016 presidential politics, but, with the race for the Republican Party nomination under way, we may be getting a not-so-sneaky preview of how former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intends to navigate his way around the minefield of foreign policy decision-making by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and brother, President George W. Bush. While he still has to sit around the Thanksgiving table with his family, Jeb understands that it is of utmost importance that he offers his own foreign policy vision. Stay tuned for what appears to be the mother of all-political flip-flopping, back flipping, and political U-turns; moonwalking that would make the late Michael Jackson stand up and smile.


In his first foreign policy speech since he began moving around the country raising oodles of money while exploring a run for the presidency, Jeb Bush tried, albeit awkwardly, to give his father and brother props, and then claim that he is his own man when it comes to foreign policy issues.

Before an audience at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Bush allowed that he’s:

“been fortunate to have a father and a brother who helped shape America's foreign-policy from the oval office. I recognize that as a result my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs. In fact, this is a great, fascinating thing in the political world for some reason. Sometimes in contrast to theirs. Look, just for the record, one more time, I love my brother, I love my dad, I actually love my mother as well, hope that's OK. And I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions that they had to make, but I'm my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences.”

According to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, “Bush[‘s] riff on his family was totally shoe-horned into the broader address and had virtually nothing to do with what Bush was talking about more generally when it came to his foreign policy vision.”

Cillizza speculated that Team Bush is savvy enough to have used the speech as:

“a trial balloon for how (and how much) Jeb will -- and will have to -- talk about the Bush name in the campaign to come. His people … were well aware that the lines about his family would dominate coverage and overshadow a speech decidedly light on specifics. That level of press coverage and scrutiny will function, at some level, as a sort of gauge for how much leeway (or not) Bush has to talk about his brother and father (or not talk about his brother and father).”

On a substantive level, it is fair to ask: Just how separate is Jeb Bush from his father and brother? According to ABC News’ The Note, “An aide to Bush's Right to Rise political action committee confirmed a group of 21 veteran foreign policy experts advising Bush, many of whom worked in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.”

The list of “veteran foreign policy experts” includes a number of former government officials that should be defending themselves at the International Criminal Court at the Hague: According to The Note,

“The group includes former secretaries of state James Baker, who served under George H.W. Bush, and George Shultz, who served under Ronald Reagan; two former secretaries of homeland security who served under George W. Bush, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff; two former CIA directors who also served under the later Bush presidency, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss. Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush's national security advisor was on the list, as well as former World Bank presidents Paul Wolfowitz and Robert Zoellick. John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence, has also been advising Bush, as has John Hannah, Vice President Dick Cheney's former national security adviser, among others. The former Florida governor's aide described the list as a ‘preliminary group of foreign policy experts’ Bush will be ‘in touch with in coming months’ to discuss ‘some of the challenges and opportunities on the foreign policy front.’"

The Note pointed out that the GOP’s big money men and “the foreign-policy establishment,” are naturally “comfortable” with Bush. “For voters and caucus-goers, it gets quite a bit more complicated. The next question inevitably becomes, does a man who once famously said he never disagreed with anything his brother did as president find a few areas where he parts ways?”

Let the flip-flopping begin!

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