Jeb: Use of Force Will Restore U.S. Leadership

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush situated himself on national security and America’s role in the world right in the center – between the hawks, the isolationists and the inexperienced candidates in his party, in a speech he delivered at The Citadel military school in South Carolina on Thursday.

“As we gather today, in the aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris, let it be said that this generation knew the cost of war, but also knew the even greater cost of acquiescence to an enemy with which there is no co-existence,” Bush said. “Radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on the western world. Their aim is our total destruction. We can’t withdraw from this threat, nor negotiate with it.”

ISIS is a direct national security threat to the United States which requires using military action to defeat them, Bush said. “We have but one choice: to defeat it,” he said. “America has had enough of empty words, of declarations detached from reality of an administration with no strategy or no intention of victory. Here is the truth you will not hear from our president: We are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. It is the war of our time, and a struggle that will determine the fate of the free world.”

The military campaign, according to the Republican presidential hopeful, would include intensified airstrikes and “overwhelming force,” not necessarily involve substantial U.S. ground troops, rather increased presence in conjunction with NATO and Arab countries in the region.

In an interview previewing the speech on Bloomberg’s WADR program Tuesday, Bush said the U.S. should hit ISIS targets even at the risk of civilian casualties: “This is war. And we need to treat it as war. You don’t go out of your way to kill innocents. But I think this administration has not viewed it. They view it as a law enforcement exercise. They have lawyers on top of it. That’s not the attitude that you need to be successful.”

The former Florida Governor, in an attempt to restart his campaign in the crucial months leading to the early state primaries in February, argued that the attacks in Paris should serve as a siren against electing inexperienced candidates for the highest office. “This brutal savagery is a reminder of what is at stake in this election. We are choosing the leader of the free world,” he stressed. “And if these attacks remind us of anything, it is that we are living in serious times that require serious leadership.”

While acknowledging the need of spending cuts across the board, Bush called for increasing the size of the military and be prepared for the use of force. “I believe in the principle that the greater our superiority in military power, the less likely it is that we will have to assert that power, or be provoked into using it,” he asserted. “In my administration, security for the United States will mean gaining and keeping the edge in every category, old and new. Whether it’s our command of the seas, the land, or the air, of space or cyberspace, America’s goal should be technological superiority beyond question. My plan puts the warfighters first, to maintain a force without equal.”

“When the threat we face is an urgent one, and defeating it is in our national interest, we must be prepared to use force,” he continued. “When we do use force, it must be effective, and our objectives must be well defined, so that one deployment doesn’t lead to endless others – or leave the job undone. Any use of force will be purposeful, aimed only toward victory, and always with the heavy thumb of American power, resources, and resolve on the scales of war.”

Bush also addressed the Iran nuclear deal, highlighting the need to put forth a “comprehensive strategy” not just to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, “but also to confront Iranian aggression, terrorism, and malign activities that have stoked such sectarian violence and destabilized the region.”

“To accomplish this,” Bush’s plan states, “the U.S. will have to repair broken alliances and partnerships, above all with Israel.”

Changing course will also require leadership, Bush said. “But for the United States, who’s going to help our friends and allies in the Middle East gain the upper hand against radical Islamic terrorists like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizballah? But for the United States, who will lead the effort to once and for all stop Iran’s bid for nuclear weapons capability, its support for terrorism, and its ballistic missile proliferation? .. Who will be the dependable friend of the people of Israel, standing with them against the worst, if not the United States of America?” he asked rhetorically.

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