Expected Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush began his European trip by challenging U.S. allies to more robustly combat Russian aggression in Ukraine and stressing the importance of military might.
“Among all the reasons for America and Europe to be the best, to stay the best is this: Our prosperity underwrites our security,” Bush said Tuesday at the Economic Council of the Christian Democratic Party's annual conference in Berlin, Germany.
Bush said Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and the gains Islamic militants have made in the Middle East threaten not only the safety and stability of surrounding nations, but also the economic prosperity of the world’s wealthiest countries.
“Who wishes that we had less military strength and credibility at a time when Iran stands on the threshold of becoming a nuclear armed state, and when it continue to support terrorism and .. instability in the Middle East,” Bush said.
The former Florida governor said NATO must isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “corrupt leadership” from his people “in a way that pushes Russia away for a generation of time.”
Bush’s five-day European swing will take him to Poland and Estonia, which shares a border with Russia. Like most other GOP 2016 candidates, Bush favors sending lethal aid to Ukraine fighters battling pro-Russian forces.
The trip is also a chance to hit both President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for global turmoil Bush said has been the result of their foreign policy.
“By being clear what the consequences of bad behavior is in advance, I think we will deter the kind of aggression that we fear from Russia,” Bush said. “But always reaction and giving the sense that we’re reacting in a tepid fashion only enables the bad behavior from Putin.”
“We're beginning to realize that the reset button didn't turn out so hot,” he added, a shot a Clinton’s efforts at the State Department.