Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has struggled, at times, to explain his perspective on recent U.S. military interventions, particularly the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But in a recent interview with "Face the Nation," the 2016 Republican presidential candidate laid out the circumstances under which he believes America should support regime change in a foreign country.
"Most importantly it has to be in our national security interest," Bush explained. "And number two, if we're to do it, they're better be a plan to deal with the aftermath. I think that's the lesson learned."
He offered the 2011 intervention in Libya, which ousted longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, as an example. "When Libya went away, if there was a security threat - I'm not saying that there was a threat, I'm not certain. I think that's a borderline call to be honest with you - but when Qaddafi left, there was no plan to engage to make sure there was stability and now we have just total chaos. So I think the bigger issue is what...you do in the aftermath of regime change. And I think it ought to be done very cautiously."
To end the civil war in Syria and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Bush has called for a no-fly zone and safe zones to help protect refugees and civilians. He's also said he would seek advice from military planners on whether more U.S. forces need to be sent to Syria beyond the Special Forces already in the region.
"We're going to have to have special operators for sure," Bush said. "We're going to have to train a Sunni army. The suggestion that there are no Sunni forces in Syria willing to fight is just wrong. There are 30-40,000 of them but they're all spread out across the country not in an organized way. So yeah, we need more - you can't just do this by the air. It's going to require a bigger commitment than that."
Bush said the next president must "explain to the American people exactly what the plan is and what the intention is and what the end objective is."
"We're not going to have an occupying force in Syria," he promised. "That won't solve the problem. What we need though is to make sure we're doing this in concert with the Arab nations as well as the Sunnis in Syria that desperately want to bring stability."
"The other part of the safe zone idea that's important is it's a way to solve the refugee problem," he added. "Four million people, most of them stuck in refugee camps. A million apiece in Lebanon and Turkey and in Jordan. This is going to have a massive destabilizing impact in Europe and the region. And if we do nothing we're going to create a multigenerational breeding ground of additional terrorisms. So the safe zone idea is not just for military purposes, it's for humanitarian purposes as well."