WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will lay out a vision of American foreign policy on Wednesday aimed at pushing his nascent 2016 presidential campaign out of the shadow of his father and brother, two former presidents who waged overseas wars.
“I love my father and my brother … But I am my own man –- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences,” Bush will say in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, according to excerpts provided to reporters late Tuesday night.
In his first major foreign policy address, the likely 2016 Republican front-runner will make the case for increased military spending so America can “project power and enforce peaceful stability in far-off areas of the globe.” He will also criticize President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, calling it “inconsistent and indecisive.”
“Having a military that is equal to any threat … makes it less likely that we will need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way,” Bush plans to tell attendees, adding that he believes “fundamentally, that weakness invites war… and strength encourages peace.”
The idea that a bigger U.S. military would act as a bigger deterrent to potential foes is one that reached its apex during the Cold War, but has been repeatedly challenged in the 21st century by the rise of global terrorism and sectarian conflicts.
The Obama administration is currently working to devise responses to a number of unconventional threats to global security. Chief among them are the rise of the so-called Islamic State in the Middle East, and the Russian-backed separatists waging guerrilla war in Ukraine.
From his speech, it appears that Bush would have America play a greater role than it already does in these conflicts. “America does not have the luxury of withdrawing from the world –- our security, our prosperity and our values demand that we remain engaged and involved in often distant places,” Bush will say. “We have no reason to apologize for our leadership and our interest in serving the cause of global security, global peace and human freedom.”
This vision of America’s role in the world directly contradicts the view held by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another 2016 potential candidate, that the U.S. should avoid involvement in foreign conflicts unless they pose a direct threat to American lives.
But even as Bush stressed that he would devise his own way forward, plenty of his foreign policies invite comparisons, not contradictions, with those of his neoconservative brother, George W.Bush, and his realist father, George H.W. Bush.
One reason for this could be that Jeb Bush has consulted many of the same advisers his father and brother relied on to help them craft foreign policy while each was in office. The advisers represent a spectrum of conservative viewpoints, from the pragmatic James Baker, former secretary of state in the George H.W. Bush administration, to the fiercely ideological Paul Wolfowitz, who served as deputy secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration.
Wolfowitz and Jeb Bush have held similar foreign policy ideas since at least 1997, when they were both signatories to a set of principles devised by the conservative Center for a New American Security, and described by the group as a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” Other signatories include former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
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