With Republicans rallying around the man they hope will be the third American president from the Bush family, Republicans are opening up exciting new possibilities for regime change the world over. Jeb, like his brother George, is a man who goes by his gut and isn't afraid to wield a big stick. He's already proved himself an up-and-coming hardliner to watch out for by absorbing key members of Dubya's national security team, and he's repeatedly warned of the weak approach Obama is taking to issues from Iran's nuclear program to setting up new trade ties with Cuba.
If elected, the world will be his oyster. We're all watching with bated breath to see which of these countries will be lucky enough to be freed next.
This sun- and blood-soaked Middle Eastern country would offer President Jeb the opportunity to get his feet wet without having to dive right in. Don't worry, though, the water's fine. More than one Bush has learned that once you get past the chill in your ankles, it's easy to wade into Iraq one inch at a time.
Jeb has recently commented that he won't be bound by his brother Dubya's previous failures with American intervention in Iraq, but in the same interview commented that he supported a "forceful foreign policy where we're supportive of our friends." Back in September, the New York Times reported that Jeb was striking a hawkish tone on dealing with Islamic State:
Right now it's kind of hard to tell how we would achieve the worthy objective that all Americans want, which is to take out ISIS without having some military engagement on the ground. I don't see it.
The would-be president is also a signatory of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century's Statement of Principles, and his advisors include former George W. Bush aide Meghan O'Sullivan, who advocated for the 2007 troop surge in Iraq. They also include Paul Wolfowitz, who might be looking to call a mulligan.
But while an American re-invasion of Iraq would be a disaster, Americans would essentially be watching re-runs, making this one of Jeb's least "Shock and Awe"-y choices. Better to aggressively ramp up the ongoing U.S. bombing against Islamic State, and maybe throw in a few high-profile commando raids to spice it up a little.
Besides, it's just too derivative for a president that is creative enough to come up with an entirely original theater of conflict that will entertain Republicans for decades to come. We rate this war at 45 of 10,500 cluster munition bomblets.
Neighboring Syria offers many of the same strategic advantages as Iraq for the Republican warmonger simply willing to reach out and seize it. It's an ideal platform to wage a proxy war on Iran and please the decrepit Saudi Arabian monarchy, which for some strange reason or another simply isn't getting all the U.S. love it needs these days. Like any good action movie sequel, it offers updated thrills like a brand-spanking-new dictator to overthrow (the notoriously meerkat-like Bashar al-Assad) and the specter of Russian involvement.
Jeb was a major critic of the Obama administration's quivering, politically correct refusal to follow through on the chemical weapons "red line" threat. His advisors also include Stephen Hadley, Dubya's national security advisor, who The Guardian notes often writes things like "Syria today shows what happens when a bloody dictator goes unchecked." Finally, a new war in Syria would allow the Bush crowd to pretend that the real problem with the past decade of U.S. policy in the Middle East was actually not dropping enough bombs, cruise missiles and landing ships bristling with heavily armed Marines on it. We rate this war at two our of four sobbing mothers, as well at 450,000 additional casualties out of Syria's population of 23 million.
Why bother with the Middle East when there's a terrible threat to world peace lurking right here in North America? No, I'm not talking about Donald Rumsfeld but Cuba, which has withstood countless attempts to depose or assassinate members of the reigning Castro family, a ruinous U.S. embargo and at least one directly CIA-backed invasion.
President Jeb, a member of the hardliner clique and devotee of Miami's infamously crazed Cuban expat community, has an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past by one-upping them. He's pushing even tougher economic sanctions on Cuba, thinks improved relations with the country are "the wrong thing to do" and lobbied to give shelter in Florida to Orlando Bosch, a right-wing terrorist who probably bombed a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing 73 people. Forget a "thaw" - Jeb is ready to make the U.S.-Cuba relationship more tense than at any point since the Reagan administration.
A discriminating public will probably look for a change of pace with our next big war, and America hasn't gone to war with a Central American country since Jeb's dad George H.W. Bush invaded Panama in 1989. U.S. forces can look forward to all those Cuba Libres they'll be sipping on the beach, whenever they're not dodging nationalist sniper fire or hauling their comrades' bodies away from the smoking wreckage left by IED attacks in downtown Havana.
We rank this war as improbable, but at 12 out of 20 Facebook cover photos of crying eagles superimposed over flag-draped caskets.
Bush has been quite active raising awareness of the threat posed by Russian aggression, which he has repeatedly chided cannot be met with "American passivity." Jeb recently accused Obama of dismissing "Russia as merely a regional power one month after they fomented and participated actively in the violent takeover of Eastern Ukraine." Best yet, Jeb hasn't seemed totally clear on what he would do to curb Russian aggression. That could really increase the chances of him turning to something drastic, like arming Ukraine with heavy anti-tank weaponry or even threatening Russia with NATO retaliation.
Prominent GOP war hawks like John McCain, Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham have urged the U.S. to consider a military option to beat back Putin's territorial ambitions, joined by people like NATO commander Phillip Breedlove who think European refusal to give the Ukrainian military more advanced weaponry is a sign of weakness. These are the kinds of people Jeb Bush will listen to when making serious decisions ... like whether or not a quick bump in the polls and a secret erection is worth risking open confrontation with a crumbling nuclear superpower run by a kleptocrat more than happy to manufacture conflict to generate national solidarity. World Politics Review's David Klion makes the case that all this policy would do is "increase the violence in eastern Ukraine, which it would surely do, and then hope that Moscow is somehow discouraged rather than emboldened" - sounds like something right up a Bush's alley.
We rate this war at 5 out of 5 nuclear missiles with men wearing cowboy hats accidentally latched to them.
As the only war that is virtually certain to unfold during another Bush presidency, an armed Iranian-American conflict stands poised to once again make the Middle East the hottest thing going on in state-backed killing. Jeb is basically a Florida Man version of Benjamin Netanyahu running around the UN with a graph of a cartoon bomb, calling U.S. diplomatic talks to prevent armed strikes over Iran's alleged nuclear program "inexplicable":
The administration started with a clear objective of not allowing the Iranians to have nuclear weapons and now we’re lowering that threshold to the point where the objective is to regulate their creation. I think that is very dangerous—it creates clear instability in the region, it’s an existential threat to Israel, and given the missile capabilities that Iran is developing, it creates significant risk to the rest of the world as well.
Bush backs tougher sanctions that will almost certainly derail any tepid agreement the Obama administration is able to reach with Iran, and he believes that the theocratic state is the "greatest threat" in the region. In addition to controlling a large conventionally armed force, Iran can also call upon their stalwart allies in Hezbollah, a Lebanese paramilitary organization with tens of thousands of the region's most battle-hardened unconventional troops. While Iran and Hezbollah are currently implicit allies in the fight against Islamic State, a U.S. strike on Iranian nuclear facilities could draw both into a completely uncontrollable regional apocalypse that will really knock Dick Cheney's socks off.
If you think the current mess the U.S. military left across the entire region can only be solved by saying "fuck it, let's go all out," then Iran is the gold standard for a future American invasion. We rank this war at five out of five napalm-scarred villagers.
It might sound crazy, but sometimes the best wars come from thinking outside of the box. This humble little regional superpower of 1.35 billion boasts a powerful central government, over 2.2 million active-duty soldiers, advanced cyber-warfare capabilities, a small array of ballistic nuclear missiles and $1.25 trillion in U.S. debt. It's the knock-down, drag-out fight that the U.S. has been searching for through all those years of hard drinking and proxy wars.
Jeb has unfortunately taken a softer approach on China than previous old white guy for president Mitt Romney, saying the U.S. has "an ongoing, deep relationship" with China that needs to evolve. Bush's private equity firm also has millions of dollars invested in China, suggesting conflicts of interest that could prevent him from launching one of our best wars yet. But with four to eight years of classic Bush family charisma to turn the tide, the U.S.-China relationship holds exciting long-term possibilities. We rate this war as pretty unlikely, but at 10 out of 10 suspected resistance members lined up and shot behind a gas station by a small-town boy from rural Georgia who will drink himself to death within 10 years.