Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, campaigning in Greenville Tuesday, was quick to distinguish his views on using U.S. military power in Syria from those of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.
The two gave opposite reactions to the news that Turkey had shot down a Russian fighter jet along the Turkish-Syrian border.
In a statement from Washington, Paul seized on the incident to restate his opposition to the United States carving out a no-fly zone over Syria, where the Islamic State terrorist group has established a base of operations amid the chaos of a civil war.
Presidential candidates such as Bush “who are calling for a no-fly zone need to realize that shooting down other countries’ fighter jets will be the result and a war between nuclear super powers a possibility,” Paul said.
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Bush rejected that argument when asked about it as he campaigned at the Salvation Army’s complex along Rutherford Street near downtown.
“It’s the lack of U.S. leadership that’s creating this void and this chaos,” Bush told The Greenville News. “Rand Paul and Barack Obama are wrong on this. We need to engage. It’s in our national security interest to do so.”
The Islamic State “is a threat to our way of life,” said Bush, a son and brother of former U.S. presidents. “They want to destroy Western civilization. And every day they exist is another day where they have more energy to recruit people inside our own country and Europe and other places.”
Bush also said establishing safe zones in Syria would help stem a flood of refugees spilling into Europe and beyond to the United States.
The refugees would rather stay in their homeland if they could, he said.
“And we could resolve this by garnering global support for safe zones,” Bush said.