Jeb Bush: 'We Have to...Embed Our Troops in the Iraqi Military'

By Susan Jones | December 23, 2015 | 8:28am EST
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall event, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

( - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says it is in America's national security interests to take out Islamic State terrorists, who are "a threat to our way of life."

He told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday that the United States "can't do it alone," but he said the U.S. should do more: "We have to directly arm the Kurds. We have to reengage with the Sunni tribal leaders, embed our troops in the Iraqi military. Take the lawyers off the war fighters and destroy ISIS. That's what we need to do."

But what the United States wants to do may not align with what Iraq wants to do.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with Iraqi government officials last week, and afterwards he told reporters, "Everything we is subject to the approval of the sovereign Iraqi government." He emphasized that "respect for sovereignty and for Iraq's territorial sovereignty is a principle that the United States strongly supports in every context."

Carter and U.S. military commanders want to use U.S. Apache attack helicopters as part of their accelerated fight against ISIS/ISIL, but the Iraqi government has refused to allow that.

Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq, noted that "there are a number of complex relationships that the government of Iraq has to tend to (such as with Iran), and we are here in Iraq at the behest of that government. So, we sometimes have to adjust the things that we would do, you know, on a chess board."

In his interview with Van Susteren, Bush said national security must be the "primary objectivve of our foreign policy." But he also noted the "humanitarian concerns" arising from the effort to deny ISIS a state of its own:

"In this particular case, there is a convergence of the humanitarian concerns and our national security interests. And that's why I think it's important for us to act. We need to create a no-fly zone and safe zones inside of Syria so innocent people aren't slaughtered. And the Assad regime has to go."

According to Bush, "embracing Putin," as one of his Republican rivals has done, "is the exact wrong thing to do."

"Saying ISIS isn't a threat to our country is just incorrect. We need to make sure that we are committed to this fight in concert with the European countries and with the Arab world. And we can do this. We have the capability of destroying ISIS and creating a more secure situation going forward."

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