Bush on Nation Building

A little off of the usual topic here, but so it goes. All of the quotes below are taken from the transcripts of the first two Bush-Gore debates in 2000

If we don’t have a clear vision of the military, if we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road, and I’m going to prevent that.
–George W. Bush

The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place.
–George W. Bush

BUSH: It’s not in our national interest to use force. I would use pressure and diplomacy… It’s up to the people in this region to take control of their country.(Talking about opposition to the use of force in the Balkans)

MODERATOR: New question. How would you go about as president deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force, generally?

BUSH: Well, if it’s in our vital national interest, and that means whether our territory is threatened or people could be harmed, whether or not the alliances are — our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force. Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear. Whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be. Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win. Whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped. And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.

MODERATOR: The use of the military, there — some people are now suggesting that if you don’t want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?

BUSH: I don’t think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I’m missing something here. I mean, we’re going to have kind of a nation building core from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That’s what it’s meant to do. And when it gets overextended, morale drops.

…one of the problems we have in the military is we’re in a lot of places around the world.
–George W. Bush

Does this sound at all like the man that delivered this speech last week? From opposing engagement in the Balkans (where the U.S. suffered no deaths from hostile action) to proposing an open-ended global war for ‘freedom’? Is the same man who once seemed distraught at the plight of an over-extended military now really contemplating opening a third front in the War on Vague Threats?

The question has to be raised: why did the conservatives who voted for Bush in 2000 stick by him in 2004, despite his complete and total reversal on foreign policy. Bush senior caught hell for years for ‘No New Taxes’- when will ‘I would be very careful about the use of troops as nation builders’ come home to roost?

New federal education legislation. A Constitutional amendment to preempt state marriage laws. Expanded powers for federal law enforcement. Unprovoked military intervention overseas.

Remind me again why Republicans think they voted for a conservative?


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