Back to Main
Jeb Bush Unveils His Foreign Policies in Chicago

• Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, gave his first foreign policy speech on February 18 at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. The event was hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and about 800 people attended it.

• “My goal today is to explore how America can regain its leadership in the world,” Bush said in the beginning of his speech and criticized the Obama administration saying, “inconsistent and indecisive.” He continued, “Securing liberty has been a force of peace. Only our exceptional country can make that claim because our bipartisan parties have accepted responsibility of American power in the world with the belief that we are a force for good.”

• To work to restore strong U.S. leadership, Bush spoke about six principles; realizing economic growth, increasing military expenditures, strengthening military power, engaging with allied countries, and promoting liberty diplomacy. He said, “I am my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences,” and took a distance from his father, George H. Bush, and his brother, George W. Bush.
• On the other hand, he said, “Mistakes were made in Iraq for sure. The United States relied on intelligence on weapons of mass destruction that was not accurate,” and emphasized the need for better intelligence and support the National Security Agency.

• Bush pointed out the rise of tribalism such as ISIS that beheaded Egyptian Christians, Americans, Japanese and Europeans, and criticized the Obama Administration saying “The world is slipping out of control. Someone who came to the office promising greater engagement with the world left America less influential in the world.” To regain America’s leading power, he outlined his foreign policies.

• Economic growth in the U.S. should be at least 4 %. To make it happen, he urged the reform of taxes and regulations, including turning the immigration system into an economic catalyst and fixing the entitlement system which could overwhelm long term spending. He also mentioned that the congress should give the President a trade-promotion authority for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as an example.
• Bush said, “Whoever created the terminology BRICs ought to change the name because the U.S. would be in the category,” and urged active engagement in trading alliances.

• He also said that an energy revolution, the lowest cost source of energy, would be possible for America in relatively short order. “As we increase our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas, we also make it possible to be less dependent on other countries,” he continued.
• As a final point of economic growth, he said, “We set up a powerful example of what is possible to the rest of the world. As people around the world lose confidence in capitalism and democracy, they move in different directions. When they see America has it best, they will emulate that system, and that will bring about a more peaceful world.”

• The second principle was matching words and actions. Bush criticized the Obama administration saying, “They draw redlines and erase them. With grandiosity, they announced resets and disengage. They should know gap there.”

• Bush said, “I believe fundamentally that weakness invites war. Strength encourages peace.” He said that the U.S. has spent 2.5 % of GDP on defense for the last decade, and that was a dangerous level. He said, “The military is not a discretionary expense. It is an essential asset to keep the homeland safe and the world to be a more secure place.”

• The fourth principle was strengthening engagement with alliance countries and NATO to defeat ISIS. Bush said, “Ultimately, the goal should be this. Others should learn America is a friend. There should be no comfort, no success, and no future standing against the U.S.”

• The fifth principle was to be prepared for non-state threats including radical Islamic terrorism, and that requires a response on intelligence gathering and analysis. Bush mentioned the NSA’s program and said, “It is critical that we adapt to this challenge.”

• The final principle was liberty diplomacy that was based on American values. Bush said that if the U.S. withdrew from the defense of liberty elsewhere, the battle eventually would come to this country. He stated, “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. We have no reason to apologize for our leadership and our interest in serving the cause of global security, global peace, and human freedom.”

• Regarding President Obama’s Asia Pivot Strategy, Bush said that the terminology was wrong because the rest of the world would perceive it as if they were “pivotees.”
• He said, “I think that it is the right one, but it has to be real,” and mentioned that the Asian strategy didn’t achieve deserving results.
• He also said, “We’ve got to create confidence with our traditional allies like Japan, Korea, Australia for sure, but we also have to have an ongoing, deep relationship with China.” “China, we have to stay engaged with, because from my experiences it is easy to create misunderstandings. We easily go from being competitors economically and then being challenged in terms of security.”

• Regarding his experiences, Bush talked about his young days and recent years. He was sent to Venezuela as a representative of Texas Commercial Bank and opened a branch office there. His foreign life gave him a chance to see the U.S. from outside and recognized that Venezuela was becoming distant from the U.S.
• During his tenure as Florida Governor, he led overseas business missions 15 times and actively engaged in immigration and security issues. He visited Israel five times and signed a trade agreement with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he was Secretary of Commerce in the Florida government.
• After he ended his term as Governor, he has visited Asia four times a year and realized Asia’s dynamics

Jeb Bush in Chicago at Chicago Coouncil's event

Jeb Bush answers questions

About 800 people attended