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August 14, 2015

Bush, Odierno and Mustard Gas, Oh My!

The debate over Iraq really isn’t going anywhere.

Jeb Bush is going to struggle with his brother’s shadow and the question of Iraq for the rest of the campaign. That much was made clear again Thursday in a national security forum in Iowa, where Bush said that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” He’ll no doubt regret such a terrible sound bite. But for the record, Bush is exactly right about one thing he said Tuesday: Barack Obama’s “premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill.” He slammed Hillary Clinton, too: “Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.” Bush was smart to go on offense, but his “good deal” comments may erase any forward progress, especially after his previous “knowing what we know now” fumble.

In related news, the Islamic State has mustard gas, which it used against Kurdish forces this week. The jihadis likely obtained the gas from Syria, so it would seem Obama’s deal with Vladimir Putin to dispose of such weapons didn’t work out so well. Witness the cascade of foreign policy failure.

Finally, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno retires today, and we remember his recent comments lamenting the rise of the Islamic State — a turn of events he says “might have been prevented” if the U.S. hadn’t abandoned Iraq. And in a departing op-ed, he warns that now is “no time to cut the U.S. Army.” He says, “We need a force of 490,000 as global dangers rise. It’s at 450,000 and heading down.” Think Obama will listen?

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