It was the kind of confrontation that presidential candidates try to ignore, but serve as an important test of their fortitude. Campaigning in Nevada this week, unannounced presidential hopeful Jeb Bush effectively blamed President Obama for the rise of ISIS, arguing that Islamic State militants made gains after the war in Iraq ended.
As the New York Times reported, Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student studying political science, decided to challenge the assertion in a very memorable way.
“It was when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military were forced out — they had no employment, they had no income, and they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons,” Ms. Ziedrich said. She added: “Your brother created ISIS.”Mr. Bush interjected. “All right. Is that a question?”Ms. Ziedrich was not finished. “You don’t need to be pedantic to me, sir.”“Pedantic? Wow,” Mr. Bush replied.Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”
Bush conceded that the two will have to “respectfully disagree” on the matter, concluding, “Look, you can rewrite history all you want. But the simple fact is that we are in a much more unstable place because American pulled back.”
Whether the former governor, who struggled with four different answers about Iraq over the course of four days, realizes this or not, America pulled back as part of a Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by his brother.
As for whether George W. Bush “created” ISIS, the terrorist group, roughly speaking, is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which came into existence after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ensuing chaos, which the Bush/Cheney administration failed spectacularly to prepare for or deal with.
This does not require any “rewriting” of history.
For more on this, the Times profiled Ziedrich in more detail yesterday, and she sat down with our friends at “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” last night.
As for the Florida Republican, the former governor was asked yesterday about the best way forward in Iraq. Bush replied that he wants to see the United States “re-engage … in a more forceful way.” The GOP candidate added that he envisions deploying thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq.