Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush blamed the rise of radical militant group Islamic State on President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday and urged Congress to vote against the pending Iran nuclear deal because it is "unwise and extreme."
"Despite elaborate efforts by the administration to avoid even calling it by name one of the greatest threats we face today comes from radical Islamic terrorists," said Bush in an address on foreign policy at the Reagan Library in California.
"The terrorists are possessed. The terrorists are possessed by the same violent ideology that gave us 9/11 and they are on the offensive and gaining ground. It is not true, and was wishful thinking by the administration to claim that the tide of war is receding. The reality is radical Islam has been spreading like a pandemic across the Middle East, throughout Africa, and to parts of Asia, even in the nations of the West, finding recruits in Europe and the United States," Bush added.
The 2016 presidential candidate who is seen as one of the favorites to get the Republican nomination in some quarters said efforts by the Obama administration to stop IS, also called ISIL or ISIS, has been largely "ineffective" and the decision by both Obama and Clinton to withdraw troops from Iraq after a successful surge strategy led to the rise of IS.
"In a long experience that includes failures of intelligence and military setbacks one moment stands out in memory as the turning point we had all been waiting for (in Iraq). And that was the surge of military and diplomatic operations that turned events toward victory. It was a success, brilliant, heroic and costly. And this nation will never forget the courage and sacrifice that made it all possible," Bush said to applause.
"So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq leaving a residual force that commanders and the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] knew was necessary? That premature withdrawal was the fatal error creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill. And that Iran has exploited to the full as well," he explained.
"ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat. And where was the Secretary of State? Where was Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton in all of this?" asked Bush.
"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," he said.
Bush later blasted the Iran nuclear deal after blaming Iranian authorities for also enabling IS. He said if Congress does not reject the deal, undoing it would be one of his top priorities if he is elected president in 2016.
"It is a deal unwise and extreme with a regime that is untrustworthy in the extreme. It should be rejected by the Congress of the United States of America," he said to applause.
"If the Congress does not reject this deal, then the damage must be undone by the next president and it will be my intention to begin that process immediately," he said.
In explaining his opposition to the Iran deal, Bush said: "Whenever bad things happen in the Middle East, from Israel's borders to the shores of Yemen, the influence of the Mullahs [of Iran] is rarely far from the scene. Here is a regime that supports terrorism, threatens to destroy Israel, has for years been trying to develop nuclear weapons, routinely commits human rights violations, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq."
He continued: "Iran, its ally Assad, its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, and the sectarian militias it sponsors have fueled the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that have helped give rise to ISIS. Yet the president's deal with Iran confronts none of these problems and least of all doesn't prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."
"In fact the deal prepares the way for that capability. With the lifting of sanctions, the deal also frees up more than a hundred billion dollars for Iran security services to use as they wish. In effect, the primary investors in a violent radical Middle East have just received a new round of funding courtesy of the United States of America and the United Nations. And this is President Obama's idea of a diplomatic triumph," said Bush with a slight smirk.
As part of a solution to defeating IS in the Middle East, Bush said as president he will be unyielding in overcoming radical Islam. He also said the United States should work with friends and allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to lead in the region.
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