During a White House daily press briefing on May 26, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insinuated that the formation and sustainability of the Islamic State (ISIS) was due to the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Keith Koffler of the White House Dossier first reported the exchange, which reveals Earnest and an unidentified news reporter discussing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s recent defense of his brother’s foreign policy strategy during his two terms in the White House.
Here is the exchange:
Reporter: Jeb Bush said yesterday that “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was President.” He has a point, doesn’t he?
Press Secretary Earnest: No, I don’t think that he does. We’ve sort of been through the history here.
Reporter: ISIS didn’t exist when his brother was president.
Earnest: Well, again, I think that’s missing the point, actually. But I’ll allow others to critique his position.
Reporter: I mean what about that, though? I mean, ISIS – the larger point there is that because the President decided to complete a full withdrawal from Iraq – and of course we can go back and debate the circumstances around that, but you didn’t have the status forces agreement with the Iraqi’s that you wanted to have and so forth – that that vacuum allowed ISIS to develop into the threat to this country and to that region that they are today. Isn’t there something to that?
Earnest: No, there’s not. Because, again, the outgrowth of – we know that ISIL was an outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that did not exist prior to the fateful decision made by the previous administration to launch an invasion of that country. And that is also a relevant fact.
This is the second time that the White House has blamed the creation of ISIS on the previous administration. Late last month, in response to former President George W. Bush’s comments on ISIS, Earnest quipped back in his daily briefing.
“The fact is that al-Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to President Bush’s decision to commit significant American military resources on the ground in that country and that is a historical fact,” Earnest said.
The former President’s comments were made in a private meeting with donors in late April. Bush commented on the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, according to Bloomberg News.
“You think the Middle East is chaotic now?” Bush said to the crowd. “Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons