(US News) – Invading Iraq was a mistake.
That’s the consensus now even among Republicans, whose presidential candidates in recent days have largely fallen in line behind Jeb Bush and denounced the 2003 invasion initiated by his brother. After first telling Fox News this month he “would have” invaded Iraq, Bush subtly changed his answer three days later, saying in a subsequent interview he would not but couching the reversal in a qualifier that blamed the decision-making on a failure of accurate intelligence.
It was a watershed moment. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and other GOP candidates have now also repudiated the decision to go to war – usually prefacing their condemnation with some form of the phrase, “if we knew then what we know now,” while keeping intact avenues for criticism about the prosecution of the campaign since Democratic President Barack Obama took office.
But the simple admission that it was an error to send U.S. troops to topple Saddam Hussein creates a quandary for Republicans, whose prospective standard bearers hope to persuade voters they can more effectively manage the battle against the Islamic State group: If even they admit the Iraq invasion a decade ago was a mistake, why should the public believe that committing U.S. money, military hardware or even American lives to the current crisis won’t be proven a similar error? Especially as the Obama administration and the Pentagon incredulously insist U.S. forces are defeating an enemy that is gaining ground daily across Iraq and Syria.