Republicans Tonight: Let’s Invade Iraq All Over Again

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

At tonight’s debate, Hugh Hewitt asked the candidates if they’d be willing to commit a substantial number of ground troops to fight ISIS, even though it means getting in the middle of a Sunni-Shia civil war. Here’s what they said:

CRUZ: We need to do whatever is necessary to utterly defeat ISIS….We’re not using our overwhelming air power. We’re not arming the Kurds. Those need to be the first steps. And then we need to put whatever ground power is needed to carry it out.

KASICH: You have to be in the air and you have to be on the ground. And you bring all the force you need. It has got to be “shock and awe” in the military-speak. Then once it gets done, and we will wipe them out, once it gets done, it settles down, we come home and let the regional powers redraw the map if that’s what it takes.

TRUMP: We really have no choice….I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast. And we have to get back home. And we have to rebuild our country which is falling apart.

There are some minor nuances here, but basically all three of them said they’d be willing to send a big ground force to Iraq. (Rubio didn’t get a chance to answer the question.) I don’t know if this is precisely a new position for any of them, but it’s sure the most explicit they’ve been about it on a debate stage. In previous debates, they’ve mostly focused on everything except ground troops. Now, suddenly, they all sound like they’re gung-ho on sending over a couple of divisions. It’s 2003 all over again.

And just to make it even more 2003-esque, you have Kasich and Trump insisting that we could get in and out lickety split. That’s exactly what George Bush told us too, but even with 100,000 troops it turned out to be a little harder than he thought. It sure sounds like history is starting to repeat itself, and not in a good way.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend