Nineteen years on, the Iraq War has become a parlour joke for rich Western audiences, a parlour joke cracked by no less than the architect of Iraq’s destruction, George W. Bush. That the ex-president was speaking at an event at a venue named after himself, the George W. Bush Presidential Centre, only adds to the crassness.
Bush was there to discuss future elections in the US. But he was criticising the Russian invasion of Ukraine when he said:
…the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.
When he laughed it off, audience members laughed with him. Bush blamed his age – he is 75 – for the error.
Former President George W. Bush: “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/UMwNMwMnmX
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 19, 2022
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Bush’s gaffe drew immediate criticism on social media, including from Mehdi Hasan:
"I'm not laughing & I am guessing nor are the families of the 1000s of American troops & the 100s of 1000s of Iraqis who died in that war."
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 19, 2022
Media Lens said Bush’s error showed up the mendacity and hypocrisy of Western media as a whole:
In a single moment of unconscious dissent, the hypocrisy and mendacity of the entire Western propaganda system is exposed.
Bush on 'the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean Ukraine.'https://t.co/h1oIootAWJ
— Media Lens (@medialens) May 19, 2022
Bush also accused Putin of rigging elections. However, it was quickly pointed out that similar accusations have been made of Bush himself, regarding his 2000 election:
George W. Bush, who stole the 2000 election, decries Russian elections for being "rigged," then goes on to denounce Vladimir Putin for "launch[ing] a wholly unjustified invasion of Iraq — I mean of Ukraine."pic.twitter.com/ZnTIwQzQQo
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) May 19, 2022
Another commenter had to explain to her father that Bush, who is famous for his blunders, somehow got into a top US university:
i had to explain why george w. bush saying "iraq" instead of "ukraine" was funny/horrifying – then my father said, "wait, how did george bush get into yale?"
my father has just discovered the meritocracy is a lie.
— the hot dam historian (@varsha_venkat_) May 19, 2022
One journalist made it very clear that he felt there was little difference between what Bush did in Iraq and what Putin has done in Ukraine:
What George W. Bush did to Iraq was every bit as evil as what Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine. We have zero moral high ground. Zero.
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) May 19, 2022
‘Twice as brutal’
Meanwhile, another said that in terms of sheer death toll in the first three months, Bush’s Iraq war was far more bloody than the Ukraine invasion:
Glad George Bush finally admits this! While we’re here, in first 3 months of Iraq Invasion, 8000 Iraqi civilians were killed, double # of Ukraine civilians after 3 months. Statistically speaking, Bush was twice as brutal. https://t.co/sZsmArMQA0
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) May 19, 2022
And one Twitter user captured the essence of the problem when he said that war criminality is “ok when we do it”:
George W. Bush openly admitting that he views the invasion of Iraq as on par with Russia's invasion of Ukraine reveals what we've always known about US foreign policy: "it's ok when we do it." Nice to hear someone finally just admit it.
— Sailor Moon ☭🇬🇹 (@stealyoredbull) May 19, 2022
Bush’s latest error comes at a key moment in terms of accountability. In recent days, the first trials of Russian troops for war crimes in Ukraine have gotten underway. The first accused soldier pleaded guilty in a Kyiv court on Wednesday.
Closer to home, an amnesty on crimes by British troops during the Troubles in Ireland has become law.
Republic of Ireland prime minister Michael Martin told the press on Tuesday 17th May:
Victims and survivors want no amnesty. They want full accountability. They want people brought before the courts if possible and they want people prosecuted. That’s the least they deserve.
If there was ever any doubt about a moral double standard over war crimes, it surely must now be dispelled. As it stands, British and American brutality can be legislated away or simply laughed off, whilst at the same time war crime trials in Ukraine are treated with grave seriousness.
The truth is, all war crime allegations must be given the same gravity, and the law should not respect wealth, fame, or power.
Featured image via Wikimedia Common/Chris Greenberg, cropped to 770 x 403.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?